Message to China? US to send over 2 dozen F-22 fighter jets to Pacific
- The US will deploy about 25 F-22s at Guam and Tinian islands for Operation Pacific Iron 2021
- Such a large deployment comes at a time when relations with China are tense vis-a-vis Taiwan and South China Sea
- Normal F-22 deployments consist of six to 12 aircraft
In what experts have termed a message to China, the United States will send more than two dozen F-22 stealth fighters for a military exercise in the western Pacific this month. Approximately 25 F-22s Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, will be deployed at Guam and Tinian islands for Operation Pacific Iron 2021, CNN reported.
Among the most advanced in the world, F-22s are fifth-generation combat jets, which have such technologies that allow pilots a detailed view of the battle space.
An eye on China?
Such large-scale deployment of F-22s sends an immediate message to China, Carl Schuster, a defense analyst and a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center told CNN.
To draw a comparison, normal F-22 deployments consist of six to 12 aircraft. Also, the US has a fleet of 180 F-22s and it is deploying about 25% of it to the Pacific Iron exercise.
According to Schuster, with this move, the US Air Force is demonstrating that it can deploy such a large number of fifth-generation aircraft on short notice than China. However, the Asian giant's capability is increasing at a rapid pace in recent times.
"The US is actively practicing the deployments it will make if there is a major crisis or war," Peter Layton, a former Australian air force officer now an analyst, told the media outlet.
According to him, the US is "taking China very seriously and is developing its force posture and training its forces to be able to quickly move into position."
Other than the F-22s, the US is deploying 10 F-15 Strike Eagle fighters and two C-130J Hercules transport planes for the exercise.
In total, more than 35 aircraft and about 800 airmen will be deployed for Operation Pacific Iron 2021 that will be conducted this month.