MIGHTY B-52s are on deterrent missions in the Gulf today to “send a clear and unmistakable message” to Iran as tensions with the US hurtle towards war.
The enormous bombers were flown from an American air base in Qatar in a bid to ward off attacks by Tehran on US interests.
They have been joined in the skies over the fragile Middle East by multiple fighter jets from the US Air Force.
The F-15Cs have been deployed to an undisclosed location today and F-35A Lightning IIs are also on war patrol.
“We will not discuss mission specifics," said Air Force Major Holly Brauer.
"They have begun flying deterrence missions in the region, including over the Arabian Gulf.”
The deployment of the bombers, as well as a Patriot missile battery and aircraft carrier strike group come after the Pentagon said it received "clear indications” of threats from Iran.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton said the buildup was meant to send a “clear and unmistakable message” to the Islamic Republic.
The chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps called the deployment of US aircraft and vessels a form of “psychological war in the region.”
He added that the “comings and goings of their military is a normal matter,” according to the Iranian ISNA news agency.
The increased tensions in the region come as Washington has ratcheted up sanctions against Iran in the last month by ending waivers that allowed the export of Iranian oil to certain countries.
Iran has warned that it may fully exit the existing nuclear deal, although the US withdrew from the agreement one year ago.
The US is already primed to deploy as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacks American forces.
In chilling echoes of the invasion of Iraq, US defence chiefs have reportedly drawn up fresh military plans that would see a huge response to Iranian aggression.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan revealed the audacious strategy to America's top national security aides last Thursday, according to the New York Times.
The top secret plans are said to spell out how a vast land, air and sea force would be sent to America's regional allies bordering Iran should its foe attack US forces.
The deployment could also be sparked if Iran accelerates its work on nuclear weapons, according to defence sources – in breach of an international treaty.
President Trump's hard-line national security adviser John Bolton is said to have ordered the heavily beefed-up military plans in response to growing tensions in the region.
It is unclear if President Trump – who has tried to scale back US military involvement in the Middle East – would order the deployment.
How he has so far refused to play down the prospect of an all-out war.
When asked if an invasion was on the table, the president said: "We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake.”
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