Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the recently negotiated deal with Iran presents a whole new set of challenges for the Defense Department. The deal is expected to provide Iran a “windfall” of at least $60 billion from “sanctions relief,” which McCain said the country likely will use at least partially to go on a “shopping spree.” The international arms embargo “will disappear” after five years, “and Iran will be free to acquire advanced military capabilities, such as fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, war ships, and anti-access weapons,” said McCain. After eight years, he added, “international restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile programs will disappear, and Iran will be free to acquire … more sophisticated ballistic missiles, including ICBMs.” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the deal “is one part of our broader foreign and defense policy,” and though it significantly limits Iran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb, “it places no limitations—let me repeat that—no limitations on what the Department of Defense can and will do to pursue our defense strategy in the region.” Carter said if “Iran were to commit [an] aggression, our robust force posture ensures we can rapidly surge an overwhelming? array of forces into the region, leveraging our most advanced capabilities, married with sophisticated munitions, that put no target out of reach.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.