The United Arab Emirates has signed a deal with the United States to purchase 50 F-35 fighter jets and up to 18 MQ-9 Reaper drones, according to Reuters. The deal was signed about an hour before the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who said he will re-examine the agreements.
While the final delivery date for the F-35s could not yet be confirmed, people familiar with the deal told Reuters that an initial proposal earmarked delivery for 2027.
The deal goes back to November last year when the Trump administration told Congress of its intention to sell more than $23 billion of advanced weaponry to the UAE.
“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,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time.
In December, lawmakers repeatedly tried to block the controversial deal, but the US Senate successfully opposed resolutions seeking to prohibit the sale.
Amnesty International also urged the US to halt the sale to prevent the further escalation of deaths of Yemeni and Libyan civilians. The human rights organization alleged that the UAE, through the Libyan Arab Armed Forces, has used armed drones in Libya and broke a long-standing UN arms embargo.
Trump’s White House described the deal as consistent with US foreign policy and national security objectives.
F-35 Jets, MQ-9 Reaper Drones
The F-35 combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully-fused sensor information, and network-enabled operations. The fighter employs 5th Generation technology which ensures greater survivability, situational awareness, and pilot control.
The MQ-9 Reaper drone provides coordination and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets, among others, because of its significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons.