PUBLISHED: 01:11 EST, 28 April 2012 | UPDATED: 01:11 EST, 28 April 2012
The U.S. has sent a number of hi-tech fighter jets to a base just 200 miles from Iran, it has emerged.
The aggressive move could further worsen relations between the West and the wannabe nuclear-powered Islamist state.
A number of F-22s have been sent to the Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates.
This puts the stealth fighters in prime position to strike in Iran in the event of a military flare-up over the theocratic regime’s nuclear ambitions.
However, the U.S. Air Force has denied that the deployment shows any intention of an attack on Iran, according to Fox News
A spokesman described the move as a regular part of ‘security co-operation with regional partners’.
The F-22 is the most sophisticated fighter jet possessed by the U.S. military.
It can be used to fight in the air or to attack targets on the ground.
The jet has never been used in a combat situation in its six years of service.
The planes’ new home at Al Dhafra, on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, is just minutes away from the coast of Iran.
It also provides easy access to the Strait of Hormuz, one potential flashpoint in any conflict between Iran and the West.
The strait is the world’s most important oil shipping lane, and Iranian officials threatened to shut it down if the U.S. did not ease off sanctions and military pressure.