A prominent Iranian lawmaker said the reported basing of America’s most sophisticated stealth jet fighters in the United Arab Emirates is a U.S.-Israel plot to create regional instability, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
Kazem Jalali was reacting to media reports of the recent deployment of F-22 Raptors at the UAE’s Al Dafra Air Base.
Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. John Dorrian would not confirm the exact location of the F-22s, but told ABC News they had been deployed to a base in Southwest Asia -- a region that includes the UAE. Dorrian also stressed that the F-22s were simply taking part in a scheduled deployment and are "not a threat to Iran."
"This is a very normal deployment to strengthen military relationships, promote sovereign and regional security, improve combined tactical air operations and enhance interoperability of forces," Dorrian said.
The deployment was first reported in the journal Aviation Week, but U.S. and UAE officials have not publicly commented.
At a special briefing at the Pentagon in March, Air Force Maj. Gen. Noel Jones, Director of Operational Capability Requirements said, “If our nation needs a capability to enter contested air space, to deal with air forces that are trying to deny our forces the ability to maneuver without prejudice on the ground, it will be the F-22 that takes on that mission. It can do that right now and is able to do that without hesitation."