"[t]he US Air Force is quietly assembling the world's most powerful air-to-air fighting team at bases near Iran." The "aerial armada" includes a formidable team of F-22 Raptors and Air National Guard F-15 Eagles. According to Axe, "[t]he Raptor-Eagle team has been honing special tactics for clearing the air of Iranian fighters in the event of war. The fighters join a growing naval armada that includes Navy carriers, submarines, cruisers and destroyers plus patrol boats enhanced with the latest close-in weaponry."
According to Axe, the Air Force has not "maintained a significant dogfighting presence in the Middle East" for years. In the years following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US Air Force deployed ground-attack fighters "such as A-10s, F-16s, and twin-seat F-15E Strike Eagles". In light of structural problems with the "1980s-vintage F-15Cs", Axe reported that "[t]he Air Force fixed the F-15s and partially patched up the F-22s just in time for the escalating stand-off over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program." Axe: "In March the Air Force deployed the Massachusetts Air National Guard's 104th Fighter Wing, flying 20 standard F-15Cs, to an 'undisclosed' air base in Southwest Asia"; Axe suggested that this air base is either in the United Arab Emirates or Qatar. Col. Robert Brooks has said that the Massachusetts Guardsmen would be ready "should Iran test the 104th".
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