The UAE has reportedly signed a US$23.37bn (A$30bn) Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement with the US for 50 Lockheed Martin F-35AQ fighters, 18 General Atomics (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper unmanned systems, and a large number of air-launched weapons.
The deal, signed just hours before new US President Jo Biden was sworn in on January 20, comes just two months after the deal was announced by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) as having been approved by the US State Department, a remarkably short turn-around.
DefenseNews reports the 50 F-35As and supporting systems and training are valued at US$10.4bn (A$13.4bn), the MQ-9s at US$2.97bn (A$3.83bn), with the weapons making up the balance, although these amounts are subject to final contract negotiations between the US DoD and the manufacturers. It says unconfirmed reports indicate F-35A deliveries are scheduled to commence in 2027.
DefenseNews says administration officials from the new Biden administration have indicated they would look at the deal “very, very carefully”, due in part to the US’s stated obligation to ensure Israel maintains a qualitive military edge in the region.