Fast jets, spy planes and helicopters have flown scores of sorties from a United States aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea, positioned within striking distance of Iran.
President Donald Trump moved USS Abraham Lincoln and other warships into the region in May, slightly sooner than planned as tensions continued to grow between Washington and Tehran.
According to Sky News, the only British broadcaster given the rare privilege of being on the warship, US officers say their mission is to deter Iranian forces from attacking US targets and are also prepared to launch offensive strikes if given the order.
“A large part of deterrence is the readiness that backs that deterrence up,” Sky News quoted Rear Admiral Michael Boyle, commander of Carrier Strike Group 12 as saying.
“We are ready to defend the US and the US interests if called upon. My job is to be here to be ready to deter and to defend if required. For our mission here, which is deterrence, we are in the place we need to be.
“The people in the know in Iran know that we are more of a deterrent here than we are in the Arabian Gulf because from this position we can reach them and they can’t reach us. In a boxer’s analogy we have got overreach from the spot where we are right now,” Boyle added.
Although the carrier has not transited through the Strait of Hormuz, the main focus point of the crisis with Iran, the ship’s deployment to the region has been highly publicized by President Trump and other members of his administration.
Warplanes on the carrier were primed to strike Iranian targets in June after Iran shot down a US surveillance aircraft but President Trump decided not to retaliate at the last moment.
Many of the 68 aircraft aboard the carrier are equipped with cameras, radars and other sensors to help to increase surveillance in and around the Strait of Hormuz, including intelligence on the movement and activities of Iranian forces.
The move is also aimed at making it harder for Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to target commercial tankers and other merchant vessels without being caught on film.