The US State Department has reportedly notified Congress of its plans to sell 18 MQ-9B aerial drones to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Citing people who were briefed on the notification, Reuters reported that the deal is worth around $2.9bn.

The package includes 15 drones with an additional option for three more drones.

This will mark the first sale of armed drones after the US Government redefined the arms agreement of the Cold War era to permit the sale of more drones to allies from US defence contractors.

The US Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees, under an informal review process, can review and block weapons sale before the formal notification is sent by the State Department to the legislative wing.

Reuters quoted a US State Department spokesman as saying: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defence sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

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By GlobalData

The drones will feature maritime radar and are expected to be delivered in 2024.

Last week, US State Department informally notified Congress about its support for the proposed sale of F-35A Lighting II joint strike fighter aircraft to the UAE.

Earlier this week, the US State Department cleared the sale of four weapons-ready MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) to Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO).

The sale to Taiwan includes related equipment and is estimated to be $600m.