UAE to purchase F-35 jets and armed drones from US

21 January 2021 (Last Updated January 21st, 2021 15:42)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reportedly agreed to a deal to buy Lockheed Martin-built F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft from the US.

UAE to purchase F-35 jets and armed drones from US
A US Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in flight. Credit: USAF / Master Sgt Donald R Allen.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reportedly agreed to a deal to buy Lockheed Martin-built F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft from the US.

Sources familiar with the matter were cited by Reuters as saying that two countries have signed agreements.

It involves the procurement of 50 F-35 aircraft and was approved by the US State Department through the foreign military sale (FMS) programme. It was notified by Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) in November 2020.

Moreover, the development was confirmed by House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Representative Eliot Engel. US Congress was also informally notified about the sale.

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.

Reuters reported that the new president is set to re-examine the agreements.

Initially, a deal between the two countries was expected to happen in December.

However, issues related to delivery timelines, cost, technology, training and other support packages resulted in extending the discussions between the nations.

The Middle Eastern country has also agreed to purchase up to 18 combat drones.

Last week, Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) signed the Lightning Air System National Availability Enterprise (LANCE) contract to support the UK’s Lightning fleet.

More than 600 Lockheed Martin-built F-35 aircraft are operational from 26 bases and ships worldwide.