UAE Inks Last-minute Deal with US to Buy Fighter Jets, Drones Before Biden’s Inauguration
By Staff, Agencies
The United Arab Emirates [UAE] signed an agreement with the United States to purchase a sizable number of fighter jets and armed drones, with reports saying the deal was inked just before the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, who has said he will review pacts finalized during his predecessor’s tenure.
The last-minute deal came on Wednesday after months of negotiations between the administration of former US President Donald Trump and Emirati officials.
Sources familiar with the talks told the Reuters news agency that the deal gave the green light to the UAE to get 50 F-35 Joint Strike fighter jets and 18 armed drones from the US.
“The jets are a major component of a $23 billion sale of high-tech armaments from General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Technologies Corp to the UAE announced this fall,” the sources said.
“The UAE and the United States had once hoped to have a deal in place in December, but the timing of jet deliveries, their cost, the technology packages and training associated with the deal extended negotiations,” they added.
The final in-country delivery date for the F-35 jets could not immediately be confirmed but the initial proposal sent to UAE was 2027, according to the sources.
The sources also described the UAE’s agreement to buy up to 18 drones as the second-largest sale of US drones to a single country.
One of the sources said the agreement was signed about an hour before the swearing-in ceremony of Biden, who recently said his administration would build on the accords but would “reassess” Washington’s relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which are engaged in a bloody military campaign against Yemen.
The Trump administration pressed ahead to advance Abu Dhabi’s longstanding request to buy F-35s after the UAE and the Zionist entity signed a controversial normalization agreement at the White House last August.
The ‘Israeli’ occupation entity initially tried to stop the prospective sale but finally ended its opposition after getting so-called US guarantees that the Zionist military “superiority” would be preserved.
Under understandings dating back decades, Washington has refrained from Middle East arms sales that could blunt Israel’s “qualitative military edge.” This had applied to the F-35s, which was denied to Arab states, while the Tel Aviv regime bought and deployed the jets.