Blinken says the US is ready to sell F-35s, drones to the UAE

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference at the Fairmont Hotel in Jakarta
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at the Fairmont Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia December 14, 2021. Olivier Douliery / Pool via REUTERS

December 15, 2021

By Humeyra Pamuk and Rozanna Latiff

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – The United States is preparing to move forward with the sale of F-35 fighter jets and drones to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday. Wednesday, following reports the UAE intends to suspend discussions on the deal.

A UAE official on Tuesday told Reuters it had informed the United States that it would halt discussions to buy F-35 fighter jets, part of a $23 billion deal that includes aircraft. drones and other advanced weapons.

The official cited “technical requirements, sovereign operation restrictions and cost/benefit analysis” as reasons for the UAE government to re-evaluate the deal.

The UAE has signed an agreement to buy 50 F-35 jets and up to 18 armed drones, people familiar with the situation told Reuters in January.

Speaking at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Mr. Blinken said Washington must conduct some assessment.

“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.

“But I think we continue to be prepared to move forward if the UAE continues to want to pursue both,” he said.

The sale of 50 F-35 fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) to the UAE has slowed amid Washington’s concerns about Abu Dhabi’s relationship with China, including its use of technology 5G technology of Chinese technology giant Huawei.

A person briefed on the talks said the months of sticking points between the US and the UAE revolved around the way the stealth jets were deployed and the level of technological sophistication of the F-35s that the UAE will be allowed to take advantage. The person requested is not identified by name or affiliated with either country.

The UAE, one of Washington’s closest Middle Eastern allies, has long expressed interest in purchasing the F-35 jets and was promised the opportunity to purchase them in a side deal when it agreed to normalize relations with Israel in August 2020.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Rozanna Latif Editing by Robert Birsel) Blinken says the US is ready to sell F-35s, drones to the UAE


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