Washington: The United States will deploy aging A-10 aircraft to the Middle East as the Pentagon shifts its focus on sending more modern aircraft to Europe and the Indo-Pacific, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing US officials.
The US will deploy a squadron of A-10 aircraft to the Middle East in April alongside two squadrons of F-15E and F-16 jets, the report said on Thursday.
The deployment is part of a broader plan to retain modest naval and ground forces in the Middle East as the US prioritizes competition with Russia and China, the report said.
The plan comes as the US phases out the A-10 aircraft, which was first introduced in the 1970’s. The A-10 is still capable of use by the US in missions in the Middle East, while the Pentagon shifts more modern aircraft to the Indo-Pacific, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Larry Stutzriem was quoted as saying in the report.
The Pentagon’s new plan for its Middle East presence includes two to three ships but no aircraft carrier, two US Army Patriot missile battalions and more than 30,000 total military personnel in the region, the report said.
The US must focus on cultivating partnerships in the region to help deter against threats such as Iran as the number of military assets in the region shrinks, US Central Command spokesperson Col. Joe Buccino said.