Following several attacks against US bases in the Middle East, suspected to have been perpetrated by groups backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Pentagon announced 25 October that F-16 fighter jets have arrived with US Central Command to boost US military posture in the region.

Following the outbreak of conflict in Israel by Hamas militants on 7 October, suspected Iranian-backed terrorist organisations have conducted a series of a attacks against US bases in the region, prompting the US to deploy additional military assets, with the expressed purpose of containing any widening of the conflict. 

With the addition of the an F-16 Fighting Falcon squadron from the New Jersey Air National Guard, the US expects to enhance its efforts to protect US troops. 

“The arrival of these Airmen strengthens our ability to support our allied, coalition, and regional partners as we work together to enhance regional stability and security,” said US Air Force Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich, 9th Air Force (Air Forces Central) and Combined Forces Air Component Command Commander. 

The 119th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron known as the ‘Jersey Devils’ aligned under 9th Air Force to provide flexible options in air operations throughout the Middle East, including maintaining Operation Inherent Resolve. 

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a 4th Generation advanced aerial combat aircraft produced by Lockheed Martin, known for being the first aircraft to be able to withstand higher gravitational forces than its pilots. The jet originally entered service in 1979 with the US Air Force, but have since been delivered to over 25 countries, completing more than 13 million sorties globally. 

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The airmen “bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our mission in the Middle East” according to Grynkewich, and will join the Ninth Air Force’s three other F-16 squadrons, as well as two A-10 Thunderbolt II squadrons, and one F-15E Strike Eagle squadron.