US to send F-35s and F-16s to Gulf region after Iran tries to seize tankers

The US military will send a Navy destroyer and F-16 and F-35 fighter jets to the Gulf region after “a number of recent alarming events in the Strait of Hormuz” caused by Iran, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed Monday.

“In response to a number of recent alarming events in the Strait of Hormuz, [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] ordered the deployment of the USS Thomas Hudner destroyer, F-35 fighters and F-16 fighters to the U.S. Central Command area of ​​responsibility to defend U.S. interests and safeguard freedom of navigation in the region,” the statement said. press Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh. .

The US military already has F-16s and A-10 Warthogs in the area – the latter has been patrolling there for more than a week after Iranian naval forces attempted on July 5 to capture two tankers in or near the area. Gulf of Oman. , shooting one of them.

A defense official first told reporters on Friday that the F-16s were meant to provide air cover for ships crossing the waterway – a crucial supply route for global oil shipments – and act as a means of deterrence for Iran.

Singh said the additional assets were intended to aid Iran’s ongoing efforts to “engage in destabilizing activities”.

“In light of this continuing threat and in coordination with our partners and allies, the [Defense Department] increases our presence and ability to monitor the strait and surrounding waters,” Singh said.

She also said the Pentagon calls on Iran “to immediately cease these adversarial actions that threaten the free flow of commerce.”

Singh could not say how long the deployment would last, as Austin and his commanders are “still assessing how long resources would be needed in the area.”

She added that the plane was en route but did not say where the plane was flying from.

The early July encounters follow successful attempts by Iran to seize tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, including a vessel bound for Texas in April and another about a week later.

The strait, which empties into the Gulf of Oman and is bordered by Iran, is a waterway on which the globe depends for more than a fifth of the world’s oil supply.

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