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UAE signs $23bn deal to buy F-35 jets, drones from US

Two F-35 Lightning II fighter jets (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Ben Mota)
January 24, 2021

The UAE has completed the signing of a $23 billion deal with the US to buy defense equipment and up to 50 American F-35 fighter aircraft.

In a statement on its website, the Emirati embassy in Washington said: “The United Arab Emirates finalized letters of agreement (LOAs) with the US government for the acquisition of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and other defense equipment, as previously announced.”

The embassy added that the LOAs were wrapped up on Tuesday and confirmed the terms of the UAE purchase, including costs, technical specifications, and anticipated delivery schedules.

The contracts include “as many as 50 F-35A fighters valued at $10.4 billion, 18 MQ-9B drones valued at $2.97 billion, and various munitions valued at $10 billion,” the statement said.

It added that the latest defense package, inked on outgoing US President Donald Trump’s last day in office, “confirms the UAE-US partnership by enhancing military interoperability to counter evolving regional threats.”

The embassy pointed out that the deal was also “consistent with the bipartisan US National Defense Strategy of enabling partners to take on more responsibility for their own and collective security in the Middle East.”

It also noted that the US Senate had rejected an attempt to block the sales back in December last year.

Following the vote, the UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, released a statement on Dec. 9 in which he said: “The UAE deeply appreciates the consideration of all senators on today’s votes. Continued US support enables the UAE to take on more of the burden for our collective security — ours, yours, and our partners.

“Open, tolerant, and future oriented, the UAE is charting a new positive path for the Middle East.”

Al-Otaiba added that the country was committed to regional de-escalation and dialogue and looked forward to deepening the 49-year relationship with the US “on pressing challenges like global health, climate, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and regional conflicts.”

The embassy statement also reiterated that the UAE was committed to de-escalation and a new regional dialogue.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said on Thursday that the UAE was looking forward to working with US President Joe Biden “to overcome common global challenges” and stood “ready to strengthen efforts to support peace in our region.”


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