The US Government has approved the deployment of naval weaponry to the Middle East, including the USS Arlington (LPD-24) warship and an additional MIM-104 Patriot missile defence battery, following a request from US Central Command (CENTCOM).
The Patriot long-range, all-weather air defence system has the ability to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft including drones. The US has deployed Patriot missile systems in Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE.
The deployment of additional naval weaponry to the Middle East comes days after certain assets were moved to the region to address growing tensions with Iran.
In a statement, the US Department of Defence (DoD) said: “These assets will join the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a US Air Force (USAF) bomber task force in the Middle East region in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests.
“The DoD continues to closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime, their military and proxies. Due to operational security, we will not discuss timelines or location of forces.”
Last week, the Trump administration sent a navy strike group headed by USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force, including B-52 bombers, to the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility in the wake of growing threat by Iran.
The US walked out of the 2015 nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran last year, which dealt a significant blow to Iranian crude exports as sanctions imposed by the US against Tehran mandated countries to stop purchasing oil from the Middle East nation.
The Pentagon statement added that “the US does not seek conflict with Iran”, but it was ready to defend its forces and interests in the region. The US has so far not specified the specific nature of the threats by Iran.
The USS Arlington San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock is designed to transport US Marines, amphibious vehicles, conventional landing craft and rotary aircraft. The ship can be used in support of amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions.