Home- Stories -Concern Over White House Plan to Sell 50 F-35 Jets to UAE

Concern Over White House Plan to Sell 50 F-35 Jets to UAE

F-35 : Nov 3, 2020 - : 5:33 pm

Israel will no longer be the only country in the Middle East to operate F-35 fighter planes if the U.S. Congress approves a proposal to sell 50 of the jets to  the United Arab Emirates. The deal, if it gets approval, is worth $10.4 billion.

In the case of a foreign military sale (FMS), the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) normally sends recommendations of approval to Congress after considering the pros and cons of the sale.  In the case of the potential sale to the UAE, the White House chose to bypass the DSCA and notified the House Committee of Foreign Affairs last week.

The proposal, which comes in the wake of the September signing of the Abraham Accords, a peace treaty involving Israel, Bahrain and UAE, has raised eyebrows. A major reason for the concern is that UAE has military ties with China and Russia, countries that the U.S. considers as its greatest adversaries. The country has Chinese military drones in its arsenal and in 2018 inked a strategic partnership agreement with Russia.

Rep. Eliot Engel, House Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman, said in a statement that the plan would change the Middle East military balance of power. The sale, if approved, would lead to other countries in the region demanding the jet, he added.

“We must maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge, as provided in U.S. law, and ensure Israel’s military superiority in the region, as Israel remains our most crucial ally there,” Engel said. “Israel currently has exclusive access in the region to the F-35, which has guaranteed its military edge over the last several years. As Congress reviews this sale, it must be clear that changes to the status quo will not put Israel’s military advantage at risk.”

Congress will approve the  proposed sale only if it does not contradict the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), which ensures Israel of the  most up-to-date armaments from the United States. In October,  the U.S. House approved a legislation that guarantees Israel a “qualitative military edge” over other Middle East countries, a pledge that the U.S. has given Israel since the Sixties with the AECA.

“The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a game-changing stealth platform boasting advanced strike capability and unique sensor technology,” Engel added. “The export of this aircraft requires very careful consideration and Congress must analyze all of the ramifications. Rushing these sales is not in anyone’s interest.”

Fourteen countries now operate the Lockheed Martin-made fighter jet. Israel has 15 F-35s; the country first acquired the jet in 2016.

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