The U.S. State Department is backing a potential sale of up to 50 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for $10.4 billion, Bloomberg reported citing four people familiar with the matter.
According to the report, the State Department notified the U.S. Congress on the sale on Thursday.
Last month it was reported that UAE has submitted a formal request to purchase F-35 jets from the U.S. 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 request to the U.S. State Department was the first step in a long process to procure the most advanced U.S.-built aircraft. The sale will be through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and the approval from the State Department was the next milestone for the procurement.
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.