The United States and the United Arab Emirates are aiming to form an initial agreement on the sale of F-35 fighter stealth jets to the Gulf country by December, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Emirati defense officials hope to secure a letter of agreement no later than December 2, when UAE National Day is celebrated.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East to own the F-35s and currently has about 24 of the jets.
The agreement must fulfill the United State’s commitment – defined in US law – to ensure Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME). Some sources say that the US may provide Israel with advanced radar technology that may override the stealth qualities of the jets, rendering them visible to Israeli radar.
Another option is for the jets sold to the United Arab Emirates to be designed in a way that will allow the jets owned by Israel to outperform any others in the Middle East.
The practical implications of the agreement won’t be seen for years. Poland ordered 32 F-35 jets in Janaury from the U.S. and is not slated to receive them until 2024.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz arrived in Washington on Tuesday to hold discussions, among other issues, on the US sale of the F-35s to the UAE and the maintenance of Israel’s military edge.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)