The United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hope to have an initial agreement on the sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Gulf state in place by December, as the Trump administration studies how to structure a deal without running afoul of the Zionist entity.
Sources close to the negotiations said the goal is to have a letter of agreement in place in time for UAE National Day celebrated on Dec. 2, Reuters news agency reported, citing sources close to the negotiations.
Any deal must satisfy decades of agreement with Tel Aviv that states any US weapons sold to the region must not impair the Zionist entity’s “qualitative military edge,” guaranteeing US weapons furnished to ‘Israel’ are “superior in capability” to those sold to its neighbors.
With that in mind, Washington is studying ways to make the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 more visible to Israeli radar systems, the agency said, quoting two sources.
Reuters could not determine if this would be done by changing the jet or providing Tel Aviv with better radar, among other possibilities.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was due to meet his US counterpart Mark Esper in Washington Tuesday.
The UAE Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The White House declined to comment.
A Pentagon spokesperson told Reuters: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”
Once a letter of agreement is signed, a fine may be levied against any party that terminates the deal, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, several political and regulatory hurdles must be cleared before the sale may be completed, and Capitol Hill aides cautioned a deal may not be possible this year.