"This is something I have put on my exercise program," Centcom air
operations chief Lt. Gen. Gary North said.
Israel has relayed several
requests for the aircraft, priced at $140 million per unit, Middle East Newsline reported.
So far, the F-22, termed the most advanced Western fighter, has not been
flown in the Middle East. Officials said the air force wanted to deploy the
F-22 to determine its capabilities in the searing heat of the Gulf.
North said the F-22 would participate in exercises sponsored by the
UAE-based Gulf Air Warfare Center. The center has sought to facilitate
interoperability between the air forces of the United States and the Gulf states as
part of regional defense efforts.
"I would like to bring the F-22 into theater as rapidly as possible for
exercising," North told a Feb. 26 briefing.
Other Middle East states have expressed interest in the
latest variant of the F-15 fighter-jet.
Executives said several Middle East states have relayed interest in the
new F-15 Silent Eagle, or F-15SE. They said the aircraft, manufactured by
Boeing, would be capable of long-strike missions against such regional
adversaries as Iran.
"The F-15 Silent Eagle is designed to meet our international customers'
anticipated need for cost-effective stealth technologies, as well as for
large and diverse weapons payloads," Boeing vice president Mark Bass said.
Executives said the F-15SE would mark an interim solution until the
maturation of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project. They said the latest
F-15 included new conformal tanks as well as weapons bays for missiles
designed to reduce the aircraft's radar signature.