Why the UAE F-35 Deal Remains Grounded Two Years After the Abraham Accords

UAE F-35 Deal Remains Grounded | If the historic agreement is ever implemented, the Americans will probably ask for approval on any future UAE military purchases. And what relevance does China have to this?

WATERLOO – One of the major side agreements related to Israel’s reconciliation with the Arab world hasn’t materialised two years after the Abraham Accords were signed: the sale of sophisticated fighter aircraft to the United Arab Emirates.

Due to worries about Israel’s superior military capabilities and the Gulf state’s ties to China, the contract has been largely frozen since December.

The United States and the UAE signed a contract including up to 50 F-35 fighter jets, 18 MQ-9 reaper drones, and over $10 billion in advanced munitions made by Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, and Raytheon during the final months of the Trump administration.

With this historic agreement, the UAE would have become the first Arab nation to purchase both F-35 and MQ-9 aircraft, raising the question of whether Israel would still maintain its constitutionally required superior military position in the region. Israel’s fleet consists of 50 F-35 Lightning IIs made by Lockheed Martin. The UAE has long been interested in purchasing the F-35.

Israeli officials issued contradictory statements in response to the selling proposal. At first, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a connection between the weapons shipments and rapprochement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

However, a month after normalisation, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz declared they would not object to the sale because the US would guarantee Israel’s continued superior military capabilities. Later, Gantz would assert that he and other Israeli security officials had been kept in the dark about specifics of the talks.

Two months before an agreement was actually finalised on Trump’s last day in office, in November 2020, the Trump administration first made a public announcement that it would proceed with the sale. But after Joe Biden became president, his team chose to formally examine the agreement while delaying its implementation until April 2021.

Around this time, U.S. officials started communicating their worries about the UAE’s developing connection with China through media leaks.

The adoption of Huawei 5G technology in the UAE, which China and the UAE agreed upon in 2019, was perhaps most urgent for the Americans. The establishment of the mobile phone network, which has numerous cell towers, close to F-35 facilities has alarmed the United States because it may enable China to covertly track and gather information about the aircraft.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, relations between China and the UAE only deepened: the two governments decided to build a facility for Sinopharm to produce vaccines, and the UAE would use Chinese apps to administer and monitor immunizations.

The Biden administration demanded a guarantee from the UAE that it would not give any information about American military technology to China or another third party, would maintain Israel’s superior military capabilities, and would not use the allegedly stolen weapons in the ongoing wars in Yemen and Libya.

The UAE retorted that it had a track record of safeguarding American military technology, but talks continued past the original goal date of April all the way until the summer of 2021. The UAE, on the other hand, started to become irate when American directives over how it used the weapons started to veer into what would be viewed as an invasion of its sovereignty.

Lawfully, expected U.S. arms deals to Center Eastern nations are denied from including any things that could dissolve Israel’s subjective military edge. Moreover, the Arms Product Control Act expresses that potential purchasers might involve these things for “explicit purposes just, including inside security, genuine self-protection, and cooperation in aggregate estimates mentioned by the UN or similar associations.” These limitations add a layer of intricacy to each arm exchange with U.S. accomplices in the locale, yet they are especially prickly for this situation given the F-35’s close unequaled abilities and the UAE’s new history of unfamiliar mediations in Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.

This deal is additionally eclipsed by developing U.S. worries over Abu Dhabi’s undeniably cozy relationship with China.

According to a specialized viewpoint, protection authorities are very watched about the F-35’s restrictive covertness capacities, sensor innovation, and different elements that make it the crown gem of U.S. airpower. For instance, Turkey was ousted from the F-35 program for taking conveyance of the Russian S-400 air protection framework, which was planned to a limited extent to overcome airplane like the F-35.

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