The US Air Force has sent a chilling message to Iran with huge display of jet fighter force as President Trump deployed B-52s with their sights set on Tehran.
Dozens of F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter jets took to the runway on Monday as Utah’s Hill Air Force Base hosted a Combat Power Exercise.
Fifty-two aircraft were used in the drill conducted by the active-duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings.
An elephant walk – a term for the taxing of military aircraft before takeoff – was organized as part of the exercise.
It came as last week’s assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani sparked fears of World War 3 erupting.
The 388th Fighter Wing shared to Facebook: “The exercise, which was planned for months, demonstrated their ability to employ a large force of F-35As – testing readiness in the areas of personnel accountability, aircraft generation, ground operations, flight operations, and combat capability against air and ground targets.”
“A little more than four years after receiving their first combat-coded F-35A Lightning II aircraft, Hill’s fighter wings have achieved full warfighting capability.”
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As tensions grow with Iran, the Pentagon sent six B-52 strategic bombers to Diego Garcia, a British-controlled island in the Indian Ocean, CNN reported Monday.
The military base will have the B-52s available for operations against Iran if needed.
According to the US Air Force, a B52 can drop bombs on anything in an 8,800 mile radius of its airbase but can be refuelled mid-air, meaning that it can keep going for as long as its 5-strong staff can.
According to CNN, the bombers were deployed to the island because it can’t be reached by Iranian missiles.]
Thousands of Iranians flooded the streets of Tehran for the funeral of Qasem Soleimani on Monday.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wept over the general’s casket during his prayers as mourners were seen waving flags and action against the US for the assassination on Friday.
President Trump ordered the airstrike after claiming Soleimani he was responsible for killing Americans in Iraq and he was plotting further attacks.
The Trump administration was criticized for the move by Democrats, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said was necessary, claiming Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on Americans.
In response to the Iraqi parliament’s vote to expel U.S. troops, Trump threatened to demand billions of dollars in compensation from Iraq for military investments made there throughout the years.
Soleimani, 62, was killed by a US airstrike after two missiles were fired from a MQ9 Reaper drone struck the general after he disembarked from an aircraft at Baghdad airport.
On Sunday, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel US troops from the Middle Eastern nation.
But a “poorly worded” draft memo sent out on Monday, announcing the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, sparked confusion. (The Sun UK)