US Deploys F-22 Fighter Jets to the Middle East in Response to Russian Aircraft’s “Unsafe and Unprofessional Behavior”
In response to concerns regarding “unsafe and unprofessional behavior” exhibited by Russian aircraft, the US military has announced the deployment of F-22 fighter jets to the Middle East this week. General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, the commander of CENTCOM, expressed disappointment in the Russian forces’ actions, emphasizing that such behavior is not expected from a professional air force. The repeated violations of agreed airspace deconfliction measures by Russian aircraft have escalated the risk of potential miscalculations or escalations, he added. Collaborating with partners and allies, the US remains committed to enhancing security and stability in the region.
The F-22 fighter jets involved in the deployment belong to the 94th Fighter Squadron stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the commander of US Air Forces Central, confirmed that these Raptors were redeployed from Europe.
This move comes as Russian flights in the region have exhibited increased aggression. While Russia continues its military activities in Ukraine, the US has been engaged in encounters with Russian aircraft in the Middle East, particularly in and around Syria. In April, Russian pilots attempted to engage in “dogfights” with US jets over Syrian airspace. Gen. Kurilla informed lawmakers in March about a significant rise in aggressive flights conducted by Russia.
A spokesperson from US Air Forces Central stated that there has been a recent increase in unprofessional behavior demonstrated by Russian aircraft. Although the nature of this behavior may vary from day to day and pilot to pilot, there has been a noticeable escalation compared to the previous year. The spokesperson noted that Russian pilots have become significantly more unprofessional and unsafe in their attempts to challenge Coalition operations against Da’esh (ISIS). Previously, Russian military leadership in Syria had been willing to comply with agreed-upon deconfliction protocols, but the recent conduct deviates from that norm.