The US is sending more firepower to the Middle East to check Iran — here are the weapons the US has sent that way

An F/A-18E Super Hornet on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Sherman
  • In response to hostile behaviour and apparent acts of aggression by Iran, the US military has been sending additional firepower to the Middle East since May.
  • The US has sent a carrier strike group, bombers, fighters, amphibious assault vessels, missile defence batteries, and ground troops to deter Iran.
  • The Department of Defence announced Friday that it has increased the number of US forces in the Middle East by 14,000 since May.
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When tensions with Iran spiked in May, the US began sending significant firepower to the Middle East to confront possible threats. Since that time, the US has increased the number of US forces in the region by 14,000, the Department of Defence announced Friday.

The US sent the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command area of responsibility in May. Those assets were quickly followed by additional deployments of fighters, amphibious assault vessels, and air-and-missile defence batteries.

As the situation with Iran worsened with a string of troubling tanker attacks and other acts of aggression said to have been carried out by Iranian forces, the US sent around two thousand additional ground troops into the area to improve US warfighting capabilities. The US also sent additional fighter and reconnaissance aircraft.

Some assets may have left the region as others arrived.

Following a relative lull in tensions, two Saudi oil sites came under fire, and the US has pinned the blame on Iran. The US made the decision in September to send one Patriot battery, four Sentinel radar systems, and approximately 200 support personnel to Saudi Arabia.

On Friday, the Department of Defence announced that it was sending two fighter squadrons, one air expeditionary wing, two Patriot batteries, and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) battery to the region. In the last month, the US has moved an additional 3,000 troops into the area.

“As we have stated, the United States does not seek conflict with the Iranian regime, but we will retain a robust military capability in the region that is ready to respond to any crisis and will defend U.S. forces and interest in the region,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Aircraft carrier: USS Abraham Lincoln

The USS Abraham Lincoln. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric S. Powell/Handout

The USS Abraham Lincoln, a mobile sea-based airfield, is the lead ship for the carrier strike group that bears its name and is outfitted with a highly capable carrier air wing.

Carrier air wing: fighters, electronic-attack aircraft, early-warning aircraft, and rotary aircraft

An F/A-18E Super Hornet. Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik/US Navy

Carrier Air Wing Seven consists of F/A-18 Super Hornets, EA-18G Growler electronic-attack aircraft, E-2 Hawkeye early-warning aircraft, and a number of rotary aircraft from multiple squadrons capable of carrying out a variety of operational tasks.

Cruiser: USS Leyte Gulf

The USS Leyte Gulf. US Navy

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers are multi-role warships that run heavily armed with 122 vertical-launch-system (VLS) cells capable of carrying everything from Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles to surface-to-air missiles and anti-submarine-warfare rockets.

4 destroyers: USS Bainbridge, USS Gonzalez, USS Mason, and USS Nitze

The USS Mason. Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Blake Midnight/U.S. Navy via AP

Like the larger cruisers, destroyers are also multi-mission vessels. Armed with 90 to 96 VLS cells, these ships have air-and-missile defence capabilities, as well as land-attack abilities.

Early in the Trump presidency, two US Navy destroyers devastated Shayrat Airbase with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to punish the Syrian regime in the aftermath of a chemical-weapons attack.

Bombers: B-52s

The B-52 with all its ammunition. Tech Sgt. Robert Horstman/US Air Force

The B-52 is a subsonic high-altitude bomber capable of carrying nuclear and conventional payloads. These hard-hitting aircraft can carry up to 70,000 pounds of varied ordnance and can be deployed to carry out various missions, including strategic attack, close air support, air interdiction, and offensive counter-air and maritime operations.


US Air Force F-15C Eagles arrive on a flight line U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn A. Ford

The Department of Defence has not specifically stated what fighters it has deployed to the region, but the US has been operating F-15Cs, F-22s, and F-35s in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, with some conducting publicly announced deterrence flights.

Amphibious Landing Ship: USS Arlington

The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) departs her homeport of Naval Station Norfolk. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Megan Anuci

A San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock is able to move Marines, amphibious assault vehicles, conventional landing craft, and rotary aircraft to support amphibious assaults, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions, the Pentagon explained.

Air-and-Missile Defence: Patriot batteries, THAAD battery

The Army test fires a Patriot missiles. U.S. Army photo

A Patriot battery is, according to the Department of Defence, a long-range, all-weather air defence system with the ability to eliminate certain threatening tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.

Multiple batteries, along with radar, have been sent into the Middle East this year to defend against possible Iranian aggression.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) batteries recently deployed offer an added layer of defence. THAAD has a 100 per cent success rate in testing.