The F-35s are one of the most sought-after fighter jets in the world especially due to the stealth technology that it employs. The F-35s are 5th generation jets, using advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, and advanced sustainment.
The UAE has shown keen interest to acquire these fifth-generation stealth jets, however, Israel has objected to the possible sale despite the historical agreement between Israel and the UAE.
Emirati minister has asked Israel to ‘remove hurdles’ for the country to procure these stealth fighters from the U.S. Israel is currently the only country in the Middle East to operate the F-35s and the only nation globally to have first used it in combat.
In an online interview, Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said, “We have legitimate requests that are there. We ought to get them … The whole idea of a state of belligerency or war with Israel no longer exists”.
The United States earlier inked deals for its F-35 fighter jet with many key allies including the UK, Australia, and Japan but Israel is the only nation in the Middle-East to have it.
“The UAE expects that its requirements will be accepted and we feel that with the signing of this peace treaty in the coming weeks or months … that any hurdle towards this should no longer be there,” Gargash said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that his country would oppose any sale of weapons in the region which would threaten its military superiority in the Middle East.
An industry official did confirm to Reuters that the US is indeed hopeful of the F-35 sale to the gulf country. The Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment told Reuters that Washington aims to reach a letter of agreement for the new F-35 sales in about six months.
Upon the question, President Trump said, “They’d like to buy F-35s, we’ll see what happens, it’s under review” in a press conference.
The United States provides Israel with superior military equipment than Arab states, which provides Israel a “qualitative military edge” in the region.
However, Israel’s position remains adamant, even if it does not speak overtly. “Israel must never forget, not even for a split second, that any dent in its strength is liable to pull the rug out from under its feet in the long term,” said Amos Gilead, director of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. “Intentions are fluid and vulnerable to rapid changes”, he remarked.
Can Pakistan, China Lay Hands On F-35 Jets?
The UAE has the most advanced military in the Arab world while Qatar and Saudi Arabia are aggressively catching up in terms of the capacity of their forces and their domestic defense industries – both areas where Pakistan plays a critical role.
Pakistanis have been known to provide training to Middle-East armed forces including the UAE and Saudi Arabia and thousands of their defense personnel have served and are presently serving in their uniforms.
“So there is a very intimate relationship already that goes beyond any relationship … with western countries”, Andreas Krieg said who is a professor at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom’s Joint Command and Staff College. “There is a dependency on Pakistan anyway.”
Defense ties between Pakistan and the UAE have traditionally been very strong. The Pakistan Army is known to provide training to UAE commando as well as all armed and artillery corps officers.
Pakistani personnel also hold influential positions as advisers and trainers in the UAE Air Force (UAEAF). The UAEAF has even been termed by a prominent Pakistani author as an extension of the Pakistan Air Force.
According to a study, the first Chief of Air Staff of the UAE, appointed by Sheikh Zayed, was Air Commodore Ayaz Ahmed Khan, followed by Ghulam Haider, Jamal A. Khan and Feroz A. Khan, all of whom were Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officers.
Overall, the report declares that the first five Chiefs of Air Staff of the UAE Air Force were Pakistanis. The succeeding commanders were native officers, although group captain ranked officers of the Pakistan Air Force continued serving as Deputy Chief of Air Staff.
Experts talking to the EurAsian Times, who did not wish to be identified, stated that even though UAE is one of the staunchest allies of India, the influence of Pakistani defense personnel in Gulf nations remains extremely high.
If the UAE gets F-35s, it could be Pakistani pilots who could be flying these stealth jets, and a lot of sensitive information can get passed to Pakistan and eventually to China. Thus Israel is, and should staunchly object to the sale of F-35s to the UAE.