US prepares to sell F-35 after UAE threatens to withdraw

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany
FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo

December 15, 2021

DUBAI (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday said it was ready to move forward with the sale of F-35 fighter jets and drones to the United Arab Emirates after Abu Dhabi told Washington that it they will suspend talks on a $23 billion deal that includes ammunition.

The deal was signed under President Donald Trump after the UAE forged ties with Israel last year, but progress has slowed amid concerns in Washington, including the relationship with the regional Arab nation. Gulf with China, a major trading partner.

“The UAE has informed the US that it will suspend discussions to purchase the F-35,” a UAE official told Reuters on Tuesday, citing “technical requirements, restrictions on intentional operations”. rights and cost/benefit analysis” for reassessment.

The official said negotiations could be reopened in the future and there were discussions to “resolve the common defense and security conditions for the acquisition”.

In Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had to conduct some assessments but was prepared to go ahead with the deal.

“We want to make sure, for example, that our commitment to a quality Israeli military advantage is guaranteed, so we want to make sure we can scrutinize any technology. sold or transferred to other partners in the region, including the UAE,” Blinken said.

Sources told Reuters in January, the UAE signed an agreement to buy 50 F-35 stealth jets made by Lockheed Martin, 18 MQ-9B drones and advanced weapons.

A person briefed on the talks said the sticking points between the US and the UAE revolved around how the jets could be deployed and how sophisticated the F-35’s technology could be. Emiratis will be allowed to take advantage.

The UAE official said the United States, on which Gulf Arab states rely heavily on the security umbrella, “remains the UAE’s preferred supplier for advanced defense requirements.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby previously said that the US partnership with the UAE is more strategic and complex than arms sales and that Washington is committed to working with Abu Dhabi to address the issues. their question.

“We will always emphasize, because of statutory and policy requirements, on a variety of end-use requirements,” says Kirby.

He predicted that the arms sale would be made at a meeting of US and UAE officials at the Pentagon later this week.

(Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous, Humeyra Pamuk, Rozanna Latif, Mike Stone and Idrees Ali; Editing by Timothy Heritage) US prepares to sell F-35 after UAE threatens to withdraw


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