The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced Tuesday.
The possible sale, approved under the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, is worth an estimated cost of $10.4 billion. DSCA, which is under the U.S. Department of Defense and oversees FMS sales, delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on Nov. 10.
The F-35 sales package approved for UAE includes 50 F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft and 54 Pratt & Whitney F-135 Engines (up to 50 installed and 4 spares). Also included are Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communications, Computer and Intelligence/Communications, Navigational, and Identification (C4I/CNI); Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN); Air System Training Devices; Weapons Employment Capability and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique chaff and infrared flares; reprogramming center access; F-35 Performance Based Logistics; software development/integration; aircraft ferry and tanker support; aircraft and munitions support and test equipment; communications equipment; provisioning, spares and repair parts; weapons repair and return support; personnel training and training equipment; weapon systems software, publications and technical documents; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
The prime contractors of the possible sale will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth, TX; and Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, CT.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important regional partner. The UAE has been, and continues to be, a vital U.S. partner for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” said a DSCA statement.
“The proposed sale of F-35s will provide the Government of the UAE with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces. The UAE has demonstrated a commitment to modernizing its military and will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into their armed forces,” the statement said.
The statement noted that the proposed sale of this equipment and support “represents a significant increase in capability” and will “alter the regional military balance”.
Bloomberg reported last month that the State Department is backing a potential sale of up to 50 F-35A jets to UAE after the country submitted a formal request to purchase the jets the previous month. The request came after the signing of a diplomatic agreement by UAE with Israel last month and Israel’s announcement that it will not oppose the U.S. sale of “certain weapon systems” to UAE.
Under American law, Israel is guaranteed weapons needed to maintain its “qualitative military edge” over Arab nations. Israel operates its unique F-35I “Adir” version of the F-35A aircraft.
The approval by the U.S. State Department was the first step in a long process to procure the most advanced U.S.-built aircraft.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft developed by American defense contractor Lockheed Martin with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.
The aircraft is primarily intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions and is also able to provide electronic warfare (EW) and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.
The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A, the short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) F-35B, and the carrier-based (CV/CATOBAR) F-35C.