The Pentagon is set to display its advanced F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II fighters at the Dubai Airshow 2019, marking the F-35 jet’s first participation at an event in the Middle East.
This opens up the possibility that the United States (US) is looking at the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries in the region that do not have stealth fighters, as a potential market for its own jets.
With the prices of F-35 aircraft falling, and no confirmation of the participation of Russia’s most advanced fighter till date, the Su-57, at the air show, the US could be eyeing at some big-ticket purchases by the wealthy, oil-rich gulf nations by filling their demand for stealthy jets. It is very unlikely that Moscow will be presenting its Su-35 and MiG-35 fighters at UAE.
All these years, the US kept the two advanced jets away from the Middle East events because it couldn’t sell cutting-edge weaponry to Arab countries given its policy of maintaining Israel's technological superiority in military equipment. Israel is the only country in the region to have bought F-35 jets.
The fighters’ presence at the upcoming airshow could, however, throw light upon the change in US strategy of selling military equipment to the Arab countries.
While the two aircraft- the F-22 and the F-35, feature on the updated official list of the participating aircraft, it is not known whether they’ll be part of the flying displays or only the static displays.
Aside of the two jets, the US Department of Defense will also be exhibiting Super Hornet jets, C-130J Super Hercules, E-3 Sentry AWACS, E-2D Hawkeye, F-16, F-15, KC-10 Extender, KC-46A Pegasus, MH-53 Sea Dragon, and the MV-22 Osprey.