Outgoing US President Donald Trump before leaving the White House has officially notified lawmakers of its plan to sell more than $23 billion in arms to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including the F-35 stealth jets.
The fifth-generation aircraft accounts for roughly half of the total dollar amount at $10.4 billion, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Also included are air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions worth $10 billion, and nearly $3 billion worth of Reaper drones.
“This is in recognition of our deepening relationship and the UAE’s need for advanced defense capabilities to deter and defend itself against heightened threats from Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The proposed sale will make the UAE even more capable and interoperable with U.S. partners in a manner fully consistent with America’s longstanding commitment to ensuring Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge.”
The sale would mark the first Arab nation to receive the F-35s after Abu Dhabi fully normalized ties with Israel as part of Trump’s push to have Arab states open diplomatic ties with the country.
Pompeo alluded to US efforts to increase its security partnership with Egypt after it normalized relations with Israel in 1979, and with Jordan, after it did so in 1994.
The approval is subject to a 30-day congressional review period, and it is uncertain if lawmakers will raise objections.
Congressman Eliot Engel, the outgoing chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said last month that the export of the F-35 “requires very careful consideration and Congress must analyze all of the ramifications.”
“Israel currently has exclusive access in the region to the F-35, which has guaranteed its military edge over the last several years,” the congressman said after he received an informal notification of the potential sale. “As Congress reviews this sale, it must be clear that changes to the status quo will not put Israel’s military advantage at risk.”
He has yet to weigh-in after the Trump administration officially notified lawmakers