The United States is considering selling F-35 aircraft to the United Arab Emirates, which the Gulf country has been seeking for years.
On November 4, Defense News reported that experts and insiders had made clear that the UAE had a continued desire to buy F-35s, in spite of the United States’ repeated rejections of its requests.
“The Trump team has agreed to consider the request,” an anonymous former Pentagon official told Defense News. “It’s not a ‘yes’ yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen once the dust settles.”
The “dust” referred to by the DoD official would be the ongoing spat between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, Defense News explains.
The UAE has been seeking a preliminary briefing on the program since at least 2011. But the US has been reluctant to sell the aircraft to Middle East partners other than Israel, which drove the Gulf country to seek Russian military equipment.
Last month, TASS news agency had reported quoting a Russian source that the UAE was in line to purchase more than a squadron of Su-35 Flanker-Es, typically between 12 and 18 aircraft. Russian sources had indicated interest from the UAE during the 2016 IDEX show and talks are believed to have been initiated even before that.