US deploying more Patriot missiles to Middle East

Iran's national flag
Iran's national flag Reuters

The US has announced that it will deploy additional Patriot missiles to the Middle East after officials said intelligence indicates Iran and its proxies could be planning to threaten American forces and interests in the region, the media reported.

Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan approved the deployment, CNN reported on Friday.

"The Acting Secretary of Defence has approved the movement of USS Arlington and a Patriot Battery to US Central Command as part of the command's original request for forces earlier this week," a Pentagon statement said on Friday.

Patriots are air defence missile systems designed to counter and destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft and cruise missiles.

CNN has reported that intelligence has shown that Iran is likely moving short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles aboard boats in the Persian Gulf.

The US military believes that cruise missiles could be launched from the small Iranian boats, which are known as dhows. Officials have said those boats are Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval assets, not regular Iranian navy boats.

The carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed by US President Donald Trump's administration to the Middle East as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt's Suez Canal on Thursday and is currently sailing in the Red Sea.

On Friday, a defense official reiterated that the Iranian threat "is still real and credible and we're taking it seriously".

The deployment of the Arlington and Patriot missile battery is "meant to be defensive in nature", he told CNN.

The official and the Pentagon however, did not disclose where the additional US missiles will be sent but called it a "prudent measure to protect our forces".