An additional squadron of Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons recently arrived in the Middle East amid escalating tensions in the region, the service announced Oct. 24.

The New Jersey Air National Guard’s 119th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron will “provide flexible options to coalition leaders directing air operations throughout the Middle East, including contingency response capabilities and deterrence missions,” Air Forces Central said in a statement.

The announcement highlighted the arrival of the Atlantic City-based fighters, also known as the “Jersey Devils,” in the wake of a recent uptick of drone attacks that have been thwarted by U.S. troops in the area. The move also adds more U.S. personnel to the region as the war between Israel and the militant group Hamas continues.

“The arrival of these Airmen strengthens our ability to support our allied, coalition, and regional partners as we work together to enhance regional stability and security,” AFCENT commander Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich said in the statement.

Three F-16 squadrons, two A-10 Thunderbolt II squadrons and one F-15E Strike Eagle squadron are operated by AFCENT “alongside several strategic airlift, aerial refueling, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms,” according to the release.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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