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Raptors in Southwest Asia: The Air Force deployed several F-22 fighters to an undisclosed air base in Southwest Asia in recent weeks, spokesman Lt. Col. John Dorrian told the Daily Report on Monday. "The purpose [of the deployment] is to strengthen military-to-military relationships with our partners in the region, to promote sovereign and regional security, improve combined tactical air operations, and enhance interoperability for forces, equipment, and procedures," said Dorrian. Despite speculation that the deployment is connected to upcoming talks with Iran about its nuclear future, Dorrian said the deployment actually was approved more than a year ago. He declined to say where the aircraft are based or how many aircraft deployed, citing operational security reasons. In the past, when Raptors have gone to the region, they have participated in multilateral training exercises at the United Arab Emirates' Air Warfare Center. That may be what they are doing now. Their presence has not gone unnoticed. Iran's Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi told the state-run Fars news agency that it "is a harmful move" that could jeopardize regional stability, reported Bloomberg April 30. The Air Force also has been deploying F-15C Eagles to the region for the first time in years to help promote regional stability and security.