Amid all the recent Houthi militia attacks on key oil installations and bases located within Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the United States had announced that it would deploy several F-22 fighter jets and a guided-missile destroyer to help defend these countries, specifically the UAE, as it had been a subject of a rebel attack just a few days ago.
US F-22 fighter jets had arrived in the United Arab Emirates during the weekend in fulfillment of Washington’s promises to the country that it would stand with them in the fight against Houthis. The Raptors from the 1st Fight Wing were said to arrive at the Al Dhafra Air Base just outside Abu Dhabi from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, to provide support to the Emirati military in defending against future drone strikes from the terrorists. This report comes after the US Navy deployed the USS Cole to patrol Emirati waters while maintaining relatively close proximity to the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean.
Intended to be a show of US support, the F-22s will be a show of functional goodwill between the US and the UAE, much to the appreciation of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The US Air Forces Central statement read:
“The unparalleled capabilities of the F-22 in a variety of missions, as well as its ability to interoperate with joint, coalition, allied, and partner forces make it ideally suited to serve in the Middle East region during this critical time,” said Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, 9th AF (AFCENT) commander. “The Raptors’ presence will bolster already strong partner nation defenses and puts destabilizing forces on notice that the US and our partners are committed to enabling peace and stability in the region.”
🚨 HOT: @usairforce F-22 Raptors arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, in the UAE, today as part of a multifaceted demonstration of U.S. support after a series of attacks throughout January threatened U.S. and Emirati armed forces stationed at the host installation.@380AEW pic.twitter.com/nAAZYK2BjV
— US AFCENT (@USAFCENT) February 12, 2022
The latest string of drone attacks on the UAE is due to the fact that the Kingdom plays an active role as part of the Saudi-led coalition to fight the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have since increased the number of attacks in the past few months. These events now open a potential new war front for the countries involved with various non-military casualties inflicted by the rebel attacks.
However, it is important to note that the two countries are fully capable of defending themselves against potential attacks. As recent as January 24, Al Dharfa’s very own PATRIOT and THAAD system shot down ballistic missiles fired toward several key base installations within the country. A third missile was shot down again during the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to the UAE. This marks the first time the system has been actually fired since the 2003 Iraq invasion. It can be remembered that the UAE was among the first foreign buyers of the system, buying it in 2017 with a total of 7 THAAD batteries.
The missiles used by the rebels were reportedly Zulfiqar ballistic missiles modeled after the Iranian Qiam missile, which has a range of 930 miles. Iran vehemently denies supplying weapons and munitions to the Houthi rebels. However, US intelligence reports have determined otherwise, linking the Houthi weaponry to Tehran.
Thus, with a squadron of F-22 fighter jets at their disposal, the UAE’s capacity to defend against these attacks is bolstered. Guillot further added that “The Raptors’ presence will bolster already strong partner nation defenses and puts destabilizing forces on notice that the US and our partners are committed to enabling peace and stability in the region.”
These new developments make it clear that the United States will continue to be a close ally of the United Arab Emirates. Despite being overshadowed by the Ukrainian crisis, the Houthi rebels and their attacks remain a high priority for the United States.