According to a report from Reuters, the US and the UAE hope to have an initial agreement on the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi worked out by December. Sources told Reuters that they hope to have a deal in time for UAE National Day, which is celebrated on December 2nd.
Any deal the US makes must satisfy Washington’s commitment to upholding Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME). The QME is mandated by US law and means the US must make sure Israel maintains military superiority over its neighbors.
Sources told Reuters that, because of the QME, the US is looking into ways to make the Lockheed Martin-made F-35s more visible to Israeli radar systems.
Israel initially protested the F-35 arms sale despite signing a normalization deal with the UAE. But now, Israeli officials seem to have accepted the F-35 sale and are looking for their own weapons deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu submitted a request for around $8 billion in advanced weaponry systems to President Trump. The request includes a new squadron of F-35s, which would bring the total Israeli fleet to 75.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with US officials in Washington on Tuesday to discuss Israel’s QME. Ahead of meeting with Gantz, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper vowed to maintain Israel’s QME in the region.