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.