According to sources familiar with the situation, the United Arab Emirates has signed a deal with the United States to buy 50 F-35 fighter jets and up to 18 armed drones.
Both countries were working to ink the deal before President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr took office on Wednesday; he has said he will re-examine the agreements.
Since long, the UAE, one of Washington’s closest Middle East allies, has expressed interest in purchasing the stealthy jets produced by Lockheed Martin; it was promised a chance to purchase them when it agreed to normalize relations with Israel in August 2020.
Neither the U.S. State Department nor the UAE Embassy in Washington immediately responded to requests for comments.
According to sources, the agreement was signed nearly an hour before Biden was sworn into office. The document gave the United Arab Emirates the chance to accept the negotiated schedule and configuration of the jets while also making the purchase request official.
The UAE has had the paperwork for more than a week, said sources. Although the both countries had hoped to have a deal in place by December, the timing of jet deliveries, the technology packages, their cost, and related training resulted in extended negotiations, said sources.
In a separate agreement, the UAE government has also signed a separate deal to purchase up to 18 drones, the second-largest sale of U.S. drones to a single country, said sources.