The United States Air Force (US) has increased its presence in the Middle East . This step was taken to help combat the growing challenges arising from the activities of regional and international adversaries in the region.
Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich, commander of the 9th Air Force, said the deployment of F-22 Raptor fighters to the region was intended to provide extra strength and anticipate potential threats from Iran or Russia in Syria or elsewhere.
“The Raptors, from the 94th Fighter Squadron based in Virginia, will integrate with existing coalition ground and air forces. This deployment is intended, from the US side, to demonstrate our commitment to our partners and demonstrate the ability of the United States to bring tremendous combat power at a moment’s notice,” Grynkewich said.
According to him, this step is also a show of force and deterrence in response to the Russian Air Force, which is currently operating in Syrian airspace. “The Raptor escorted multiple US regional partners during airborne missions,” Grynkewich said.
He added that the US recently updated its National Defense Strategy in the Middle East, which has undergone a “paradigm shift” and is now focused on “interoperability, complex joint exercises, and integration of weapons and values.”
Ninth Air Force is part of US Central Command, which considers the Middle East as part of its area of responsibility. The Saudi Central Command and Armed Forces recently conducted a multilateral military exercise, “Eagle Resolve,” in conjunction with the armed forces of other Gulf Cooperation Council member states. Grynkewich described the US-Saudi military relationship as “robust.”
He said he frequently met his Royal counterparts to discuss ways in which military relations and regional coordination could be improved. He described the recent deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran to normalize diplomatic relations as a “positive” development in efforts to ease tensions in the region.
“I think things are good when countries talk to each other and when they have diplomatic relations; it will provide a way to resolve their differences,” said Grynkewich. “Such healing and reconciliation is, in my view, always welcome,” he continued.
As part of US efforts to integrate military forces in the region with its own weapons systems and missions, he said American forces had conducted important exercises using the GBU-38 Combined Direct Attack Munitions heavy bomb and, for the first time on a direct training mission with partners, AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, 1,000lb long-range cruise missile.