Judging from appearances, the United States and Iran are worryingly close to conflict. This weekend, only days after the United States dispatched warships and bombers to the Middle East to deter what it deemed Iranian threats, two Saudi oil tankers and a Norwegian ship were damaged in apparent acts of sabotage in the Persian Gulf.
The F-35 fighter is the enabler of American air dominance through mid-century. It will provide the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with combat aircraft that can survive in places where no legacy fighters would be safe, collect information crucial to joint operations, and suppress threats that might otherwise preclude victory.
"Iran is the major destabilizing influence in the Middle East, and we aim to fix that,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC on Saturday. "What we've seen from the Iranians is increased threats… it's real… and it appears to be current."
Behind recent U.S. and Iranian military mobilizations lies a perception by each side that the other may be about to attack. This doesn't appear to be posturing by either side but is instead a confrontation that could led to actual conflict if there's a miscalculation.