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UAE Exploring Potential Chinese J-20 Stealth Fighter Purchase: Report

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is exploring the possibility of purchasing China’s J-20 “Mighty Dragon” fighter aircraft.

Reports about the potential sale surfaced after senior UAE military officials visited Beijing and discussed closer cooperation with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

Abu Dhabi is hoping that its efforts to strengthen ties with the Asian military superpower will boost its chances of procuring the fifth-generation aircraft, according to a report by National Interest.

China has long restricted the export of its J-20 jets to maintain technological secrecy and prevent adversaries from closely studying them.

This restriction prevents the UAE’s alleged bid to procure the J-20s unless Beijing reverses its policy.

J-20 Over F-35?

The UAE’s move to explore other options would be reasonable, as the US is still reluctant to sell F-35s to the Middle Eastern nation.

In 2021, Washington approved the sale of 50 F-35s and 18 MQ-4B drones to Abu Dhabi in a potential contract worth $19 billion.

However, the deal has not materialized because of US concerns over growing UAE-China ties, especially in 5G technology.

America argued that Huawei-supplied 5G technology used at communication stations, air bases, and other national security facilities might allow Beijing to closely study the operational capabilities of the Lightning II.

Additionally, the deal has been hampered by Israel’s request to the US to reject F-35 sales to the UAE, fearing it could challenge Jerusalem’s military superiority in the region.

An F-35A takes off during an Agile Combat Employment exercise. Photo: Airman 1st Class Jose Miguel T. Tamondong/US Air Force


America’s F-35 and China’s J-20 are often compared because they both have fifth-generation stealth technology.

The Lockheed Martin-manufactured jet is said to have an advantage over its Chinese counterpart in terms of avionics and its sensor suite.

It also boasts a vertical takeoff and landing capability, which eliminates the need for long runways.

However, the “Mighty Dragon” is said to be superior in range, weapons capacity, and speed as it can reach Mach 2.0 compared to Mach 1.6 for the American warplane.

“The J-20 can carry more ammunition than an F-35 on a single mission. In terms of weight, it can load up 27,998 pounds (12,700 kilograms) of weapons, compared to 18,000 pounds (8,164 kilograms) for an F-35,” defense analyst Kris Osborn explained.

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