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    Completion of Deterrence Mission by U.S. Air Force F-35s in the Middle East Amid Rising Tensions with Iran and Russia

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    In a strategic deployment designed to counter and deter Iranian aggression as well as Russian interference in the Middle East, the U.S. Air Force’s F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters have wrapped up their mission in the region. These state-of-the-art aircraft played a pivotal role in supporting maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz and mitigating Russian activities over Syria.

    NEW WINDSOR, NY – JULY 2, 2017: The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II from Stewart International Airport during the New York Airshow.

    This deployment of the F-35s, which commenced on July 26, was a rapid response by the Pentagon following Iranian attacks on commercial shipping around the Strait of Hormuz—a critical maritime passageway where a significant portion of the world’s oil is transported. The F-35s operated as part of the 421st Air Expeditionary Squadron and their presence in the region bolstered U.S. capabilities to conduct combat air patrols over the Strait, a task underscored by Air Forces Central (AFCENT) commander Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich as essential to deter any further Iranian actions against maritime shipping“What the F-35s did is they gave us additional capacity.”

    The advanced fighter jets, belonging to the 388th Fighter Wing based out of Hill Air Force Base, Utah, concluded their mission in late September. Lt. Gen. Grynkewich highlighted the impact of the F-35s, stating, “What the F-35s did is they gave us additional capacity.” With their superior stealth and sensor capabilities, the F-35s enhanced the U.S. military’s ability to conduct operations in both Iraq and Syria while increasing support for Navy operations in the strategically vital waters near Iran.

    The deployment also had the benefit of curbing Russian assertiveness. Grynkewich noted a change in Russian tactics, as the advanced fighters discouraged Russian warplanes from aggressive maneuvers against American assets in the region. This development came after a period of concerning interactions that included Russian fighters damaging U.S. MQ-9 drones with flares. Following the deployment of the F-35s and the release of footage showing Russian harassment, Russia has moderated its tactics and has become less aggressive., with Grynkewich welcoming the “shift in behavior.”

    Furthermore, the U.S. air operations over Syria have also been bolstered by coalition partners, including the French and British.“We are still under danger of terrorist attack in our capitals or in our land,” Gen. Stéphane Mille, Chief of the French Air and Space Force, told reporters in September. “We are flying together.”

    Despite the withdrawal of the F-35s, U.S. military presence in the Middle East remains robust, albeit more modest compared to previous years of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. continues to have F-16s and A-10s in the area, ready to respond to any emergent threats. As Lt. Gen. Grynkewich put it, “My view is that deterrence is temporal,” emphasizing the U.S.’s strategic approach of surging forces in response to specific threats, showcasing America’s unwavering commitment to the region’s security.

    related images you might be interested.

    CAMP SPRINGS, MD, USA – SEPTEMBER 19, 2015: Visitors could check out the F-35 Lightning II, from a distance, during the 2015 Joint Base Andrews Air Show held at Joint Base Andrews in Camp Springs Maryland.
    LEEUWARDEN, THE NETHERLANDS -MAY 26: F-35 fighter during it’s first test in Europe on May 26, 2016 in Leeuwarden. It is the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter.
    US Air Force F-35A Lightning II pictured at the 2018 Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.
    Pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings taxi F-35As on the runway in preparation for a combat power exercise Nov. 19, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. During the exercise wings confirmed their ability to employ a large force of jets against air and ground targets, demonstrating the readiness and lethality of the F-35 Lightning II. As the first combat-ready F-35 units in the Air Force, the 388th and 419th FWs are ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Cynthia Griggs)
    Thessaloniki, Greece – May 3: Jet Fighter F-16 block 52 plus Demo Team Zeus on the airshow in Kavala, Greece.

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