On Saturday, US F-22 fighter jets arrived in the United Arab Emirates as part of the American defensive response to recent missile attacks on the country by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The Raptors landed in Abu Dhabi’s Al-Dhafra Air Base, which is home to approximately 2,000 US personnel. American soldiers there launched Patriot interceptor missiles last month in response to Houthi attacks, the first time the system has been used in battle since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
US Official denied the number of F-22
Officials in the United States declined to disclose the number of F-22s deployed or the number of airmen supporting the aircraft, citing operational security concerns. They did, however, identify the unit as the 1st Fighter Wing, which is based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. The Air Force later posted a photo of six F-22s lined up on a taxiway at Al-Dhafra.
“The Raptors’ presence will enhance already robust partner nation defenses and send a message to destabilizing forces that the US and its allies are dedicated to regional peace and security,” said Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, commander of the US Air Force’s Mideast command. The deployment comes after the Houthis, who are backed by Iran, launched three strikes on Abu Dhabi last month, including one on a petroleum station that left three people dead and six injured. The attacks occurred during visits to the country by the presidents of South Korea and Israel.
In early February, a shadowy Iraqi group claimed responsibility for launching a drone attack on the Emirates, though police maintain they were intercepted. Though overshadowed by the Ukraine situation, the missile attack on the Emirates elicited a strong response from the US. The US military has dispatched the USS Cole to Abu Dhabi.
The spilling of Yemen’s years-long war into the UAE puts American forces in the crosshairs of Houthi strikes — and increases the risk of a regional escalation at a critical point in the Vienna talks to potentially revive Iran’s nuclear deal with Western powers.