US to sell F-35 fighter jets to UAE, White House tells Congress

An Israeli F35 aircraft is seen on the runway during "Blue Flag," an aerial exercise hosted by Israel with the participation of foreign air force crews, Nov. 11, 2019. (Reuters)

The White House informed Congress that it intends to push ahead with the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, the head of the powerful Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee said Thursday.

The deal will see 50 F-35 jets sold to the UAE, sources told Reuters.

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Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel, chairman of the Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee, questioned the move, saying it would “significantly change the military balance in the Gulf and affect Israel’s military edge.”

Engel, first elected in 1988, lost his primary race earlier in the year and he will not be up for reelection.

Read more: After UAE-Israel deal, Tel Aviv’s defense minister jets to US to ensure military edge

He said the F-35 was a “game-changing stealth platform,” and called for Congress to study the sale carefully. “Rushing these sales is not in anyone’s interest,” he said.

Engel repeatedly said the sale of the fighter jets to the UAE must ensure what is referred to as Israel’s qualitative military edge.

“Lastly, the transfer of these weapons to one Arab state inevitably will generate demands from others in the region. Will the price for normalization with Israel be an infusion of advanced weapons? Is this wise?” he questioned.

Israel initially balked at the prospective sale but dropped its opposition after what it described as US guarantees that Israeli military superiority would be preserved.

Washington and the UAE have been aiming to have a letter of agreement for the F-35 jets in time for UAE National Day celebrated on Dec. 2, Reuters reported last month.

The move came after a three-way peace deal was brokered by the US between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel in what became known as the “Abraham Accords.”

Read more: US vows to maintain Israel’s ‘military edge’ amid talk of F-35 sale to UAE

- With Reuters

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Last Update: Thursday, 29 October 2020 KSA 20:15 - GMT 17:15
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