Analysis

US Battle Plan for Iran Requires Mission-Capable F-22s
An F-22 Raptor on its way home to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 1, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Gustavo Gonzalez)
May 31, 2012
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary
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F-22 stealth fighter jets that have been deployed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could play an important role in the Pentagon’s contingency plan for Iran. An unspecified number of the planes – possibly six – will fly out of Al-Dafra Air Base in the UAE, just 200 miles from the Iran border. The Raptors, built by Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Boeing (BA), could play a key part in execution of the Pentagon’s new Air Sea Battle strategy if a conflict erupts with Iran, and could help keep the Strait of Hormuz open for transport of oil out of the Persian Gulf.

The Air Sea Battle (ASB) concept would not only entail the F-22 performing its conventional role as a fighter or bomber escort, but probably would include some new and unconventional uses. ASB foresees exotic jobs for the Raptors, such as tracking a submarine-launched cruise missile and re-aiming it in flight to engage a different target. However, the F-22s have never seen combat and they are currently struggling with pilot safety issues. Until these technical problems are resolved, the F-22s may be grounded and become an expensive and risky airplane with an uncertain future.

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