With the UAE and Israel signing a peace pact, US President Donald Trump is likely to close the F-35A joint strike fighter deal with the Gulf nation before the Joe Biden administration takes charge.
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Barely 10 days are left before President Donald Trump steps down, and the President-elect Joe Biden assumes office. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper told reporters, “Everything is on that trajectory for the conclusion” before January 20.
“As you can imagine, there’s not one contract, so they’re going to be happening at different timelines … there are going to be different contract signatures, different productions, and different deliveries,” Defense News quoted Cooper as saying.
“Everything’s in the trajectory for conclusion. And as we’ve already discussed, the sales of course have been well put together by the interagency and have cleared our Congress as well,” he added.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced in November that the Department of Defense had approved the sale of up to 50 F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, 18 MQ-9B drones, and other munitions including AGM-154E Joint Stand-Off Weapon-Extended Range cruise missiles, all worth $23.4 billion.
The deal has been ratified by the US Congress, but the sale of F-35 jets to the UAE has been contentious because of the long-standing pact with Israel to give it a military edge in the hostile region. Earlier, Washington has steered clear of making an arms sale in the Middle East region in order to maintain Israel’s QME (qualitative military edge).
Also, Tony Blinken, Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, said in an interview with The Times Of Israel that that Trump’s commitment to sell the F-35s to the UAE could be a “quid pro quo” of the peace deal signed between Israel and the UAE.
Following the contention around the deals, UAE Ambassador to the United States warned that if the US refuses to supply it with F-35 and MQ-9 Reaper drones, the country will turn to “other sources”.
“We would rather have the best US-equipment or we will reluctantly find it from other sources, even if less capable,” Yousef al-Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the US said in a statement.