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

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>US eyes agreement on F-35 jets with UAE by December

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa07991080 An Israeli F-35 fighter jet takes off during the joint Air Forces drill ‘Blue Flag’ at the Ovda Air Force Base in the Negev Desert, southern Israel, 11 November 2019 (issued 12 November 2019). EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN Soldiers from the United States, Germany, Italy and Greece, along with Israel, are taking part in the biennial drill that aims to improve cooperation between the countries air forces EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN

An Israeli F-35 fighter jet takes off during the joint Air Forces drill 'Blue Flag' at the Ovda Air Force Base in the Negev Desert, southern Israel, 11 November 2019 (issued 12 November 2019).

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  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 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. The news came a week after the UAE and Bahrain signed US-brokered agreements to normalise diplomatic relations with Israel. “The Emiratis have been trying to get the F-35 for six or seven years. Such move would make UAE the first Gulf state to possess the stealth jets. 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. 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 sources said the goal is to have a letter of agreement in place in time for UAE National Day celebrated on December 2. 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.
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