WASHINGTON: The US has deployed F-22 stealth fighters to Qatar for the first time, its military said Friday, adding to a buildup of US forces in the Gulf amid tensions with Iran. The Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighters have been deployed “to defend American forces and interests”, the US Air Forces Central Military Command said in a statement that did not specify how many of the hi-tech planes had been sent. A photo handout showed five of the jets flying above the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. Tensions spiked last week when Iran shot down a US drone over sensitive Gulf waters following a series of tanker attacks that Washington blamed on Tehran, which has denied involvement. – AFP