US eyes agreement on F-35 jets with UAE by December

The United States and the United Arab Emirates are hoping to reach an initial agreement on the sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Gulf state by early December, Reuters reported on Tuesday citing sources close to the negotiations.

The sources said the goal is to have a letter of agreement in place in time for UAE National Day celebrated on December 2. Such move would make UAE the first Gulf state to possess the stealth jets.

Any deal achieved should respect a 2008 law and a decades-older policy foreseeing that the US is prohibited from making arms sales to countries in the Middle East if the Pentagon determines that doing so would damage Israel’s so-called “Qualitative Military Edge.”

The report supports that Washington is studying ways to make the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 more visible to Israeli radar systems, however, it is still unclear whether this means changing the jet or supplying Israel with technology to identify the Emirati jets, so that the stealth craft cannot evade its radars.

The same day, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper pledged to help maintain Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East, amid growing concerns by Tel Aviv over UAE’s possible purchase of the F-35 fighter jets.

Esper’s statement followed a meeting with Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and other US defence officials in the Pentagon, where they discussed ways of maintaining Israel’s advantage in the region.

On Wednesday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said it would likely take six to seven years before the UAE receives the F-35 stealth fighter jet.

“The Emiratis have been trying to get the F-35 for six or seven years. The delivery time is probably another six or seven years from now, if they got [approval to purchase the aircraft],” Friedman said in an interview, Israeli media reported.

The news came a week after the UAE and Bahrain signed US-brokered agreements to normalise diplomatic relations with Israel.

News by NewEurope

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