Miramar fighter jets deployed in secret to Mideast
Amid mounting concern over Iran's nuclear program and violence elsewhere in the region, U.S. Central Command quietly dispatched a Marine fighter jet squadron from San Diego to an undisclosed country in the Middle East, U-T San Diego has learned.
The deployment follows threats by the U.S. and Israel of military strikes if needed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
At the same time, the conflict in Syria is threatening to drag Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan into war, Iraq is beset by renewed violence, and terrorist groups hoping to capitalize on political upheaval in the region covet Syria's chemical weapons and Libyan arms.
Against this tense geopolitical backdrop, aviation spotters tracked a dozen jets from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, an F/A-18 Hornet squadron based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, en route in late September through Europe.
The heavily armed jets -- capable of firing 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs, cluster munitions, air-to-air missiles and a six-barrel 20 mm gun -- are used for a variety of missions, including ground attack, escort, enemy air defense suppression, reconnaissance and close air support of ground forces.
U.S. Central Command and the Marine command in the region declined to say which country the squadron deployed to or to comment in detail on its mission, citing political and security sensitivities of the host nation and its neighbors.
Posted by: Au Auric