UAE Signs Last-Minute Deal to Buy U.S. F-35s
The United Arab Emirates has reportedly signed a deal for 50 Lockheed Martin F-35As and 18 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9B Reaper unmanned air vehicles). It was approved by the U.S. State Department through the foreign military sale (FMS) programme. It was notified by Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) in November 2020.
Reuters news agency, citing undisclosed sources, said that Abu Dhabi signed off the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) package deal in the last hour of the Trump administration. It adds that deliveries could start in 2027.
Moreover, the development was confirmed by House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Representative Eliot Engel. The U.S. Congress was also informally notified about the sale, Flight Global reports. The UAE has also agreed to purchase up to 18 MQ-9B Reaper combat drones. The sources said that the agreement signing took place around an hour prior to US President-elect Joseph Biden being inaugurated as the new president on 20 January, Flight Global adds.
Initially, a deal between the UAE and the USA was expected to happen in December 2020. However, issues related to delivery timelines, cost, technology, training and other support packages resulted in extending the discussions between the nations. However, Reuters reported that Joe Biden’s administration is set to re-examine the agreements.