A Peace Deal Involving Weapons

According to a report by AP, a US-brokered deal that saw Israel and the United Arab Emirates begin to open diplomatic ties may end up with Abu Dhabi purchasing advanced American weaponry, potentially upending both a longstanding Israeli military edge regionally and the balance of power with Iran.

Qualitative Military Edge

As a rule, Israel opposes the sale of F-35s and other advanced weapons to any country in the Middle East to maintain what it calls its “qualitative military edge.'' That includes Egypt and Jordan, the only two other Arab nations that currently have diplomatic ties with Israel, out of the memory of the multiple wars it has fought since the country's creation in 1948. Israel also fears sparking a regional arms race.

The US F-35

For the UAE, its pilots have seen the F-35 in action as U.S. Air Force squadrons flying the stealth fighter have rotated in and out of Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi since 2019. The Emirati air force has dozens of F-16s and French-made Mirage-2000s already in service. But the F-35s would provide a far-greater edge over Iran, whose air force largely dates back to purchases made before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and includes some locally built aircraft. The F-35's stealth capability also makes it far more difficult for Iranian anti-aircraft batteries, already internationally criticized for shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet in January, to pick up.

Droning On

The UAE also has repeatedly sought to purchase armed American Reaper drones. It already has used Chinese-made armed drones on the battlefield in Yemen, where the Emirates joined a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there who hold the capital. That war, which began in 2015, has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Israeli Ally

In the region, only Israel now flies the fighter jet as a planned purchase by Turkey collapsed over Ankara purchasing a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.