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President Trump told the White House press corps on 18 August that the US is considering the potential sale of “quite a few” F-35 LIGHTNING II aircraft to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Citing the recent normalisation of relations between the Israel and the UAE – which includes high profile cooperation on R&D in combatting COVID-19, as reported on MON – Trump stated that such a sale was “under review,” despite objections having been voiced over the prospective deal earlier in the week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. More importantly in Trump’s view, it seems, is that “they have the money” to pay for the aircraft.

MON understands the consensus of opinion among Middle East-watchers is that Netanyahu has covertly acquiesced to the deal as part of a wider rapprochement in the region, but that for domestic political reasons he must continue to be seen to oppose such a deal, in line with the longstanding policy on opposing F-35 sales anywhere in the Middle East.

Despite recent normalisation of political relationships between Israel and the UAE, an Emirati procurement of F-35s would radically alter the security picture in the Gulf. A US F-35C is seen here dropping a GBU-12 guided bomb. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

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