DUBAI/WASHINGTON - The United Arab Emirates’ accord to normalise ties with Israel should remove “any hurdle” for the United States to sell the F-35 stealth fighter jet to the Gulf Arab state, a senior Emirati official said on Thursday.

The United States has sold the F-35 to allies, including Turkey, South Korea, Japan and Israel, but sales to the Gulf require a deeper review due to U.S. policy for Israel to maintain a military advantage in the Middle East reports Reuters.

“We have legitimate requests that are there. We ought to get them ... the whole idea of a state of belligerency or war with Israel no longer exists,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in an online interview with the Atlantic Council.

However, he said the UAE had not made any new requests to the Americans since the deal with Israel.

The Gulf state, one of Washington’s closest Middle Eastern allies, has long expressed interest in acquiring the fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin Corp, which Israel has used in combat.

An industry insider has told Reuters the United States is eyeing the sale of F-35s to the UAE in a side agreement to the UAE-Israel deal.

However, any F-35 sale could take years to negotiate and deliver, while Israel’s prime minister has said his country would oppose any sale, citing a need to maintain Israeli military superiority in the region.

Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment and a leader in the U.S. weapons export process, told reporters on Thursday that in general, the United States aims to reach a letter of agreement for new F-35 sales in about 6 months. She referred questions on the UAE deal to the State Department.

A State Department spokesman deferred to Trump’s comments from a news conference on Wednesday in which he said, “They’d like to buy F-35s, we’ll see what happens, it’s under review.”

Poland, the most recent F-35 customer, purchased 32 of the jets in January, but will not receive its first delivery until 2024. Any sale would also need congressional approval.

Washington guarantees that Israel receives more advanced American weapons than Arab states, giving it what is labelled a “Qualitative Military Edge” over its neighbours.

“The UAE expects that its requirements will be accepted and we feel that with the signing of this peace treaty in the coming weeks or months ... that any hurdle towards this should no longer be there,” Gargash said.

Proliferation Worries

The UAE has the most advanced Arab military and defence sector, but Qatar and Saudi Arabia have further to go in terms of the capacity of their forces and their domestic defence industries – both areas where Pakistan can play an important role.

Defence relations between Pakistan and the UAE began shortly before the UAE's formation in 1971.PAF personnel held prominent positions as advisers and trainers in the UAEAF. The UAEAF is dubbed to have been "an extension of the Pakistan Air Force" at one point. The first Chief of Air Staff of the UAE, appointed by Sheikh Zayed, was Air Cdre Ayaz Ahmed Khan, followed by Ghulam Haider, Jamal A. Khan and Feroz A. Khan, all of whom were Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officers. In total, the first five Chiefs of Air Staff of the UAE Air Force were Pakistanis. The succeeding commanders were native officers, although group Captain ranked officers of the PAF continued serving as Deputy Chief of Air Staff. As of 2004, the UAEAF had around 55 Pakistani flying instructors. Therefore, there is a long history of military partnership between the two countries.

If UAE gets the F-35, Pakistani pilots may well be flying these stealth planes. Sensitive technology could filter out which could eventually trickle down to the Chinese. A very dangerous proposition given the fact that China has been for several years hounding the entire world with its belligerence and bellicosity including India. According to this report, missile and nuclear proliferation has been a drop in the bucket for the Chinese, free flowing the supply of critical tech to all the rouge nations of the world, namely, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran & Libya. At least from an Indian perspective, it is well documented that all the missile delivery systems have their origins primarily from China and a miniscule number from North Korea, some of them like the medium-range Ghuari  (North Korean Nodong-1) have been dismal flops. The same Chinese proliferation matrix applies to Iran as well.

China could train the Pakistani pilots to covertly pilfer crucial tech from these advanced fighters. Despite their rhetoric and hubris the Chinese are nowhere near to field a true blue 5th generation aircraft as yet. The capabilities of the J-20 is suspect as China has refused to disclose its detailed specifications even within the country leave alone the world. The Chinese are desperate to get some of the most safely guarded and sophisticated technologies to keep abreast with the Americans.


Ever since the Indian Air Force's first Rafale fighter jets landed in Ambala earlier this week, news and social media have been busy comparing the French warbird with combat aircraft operated in Pakistan and China. A notable Chinese aircraft that came up for comparison was the Chengdu J-20, China's first stealth fighter. The J-20 made its first flight in 2011 and has been compared to the US F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters, which are called 'fifth-generation' combat aircraft.

However, the J-20's limited stealth features, when compared with the US aircraft, and its use of an older Russian engine have attracted criticism. Former Indian Air Force officers have said the Rafale had superior capabilities when compared with the J-20.

A Chinese Ministry of Defence report on its website downgraded China J-20's classification from a fifth generation to a fourth-generation fighter. The report clearly referred to the J-20 as a 'fourth-generation' fighter.


The US must weigh in all options before deciding to sell the F-35 stealth jets to the UAE and Israel must staunchly oppose it tooth and nail.

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