The US State Department has approved the sale of 50 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighters and 18 General Atomics MQ-9B SkyGuardian unmanned systems to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Valued at an estimated US$10.4bn (A$14.2bn), the F-35A sale to the UAE was touted by outgoing US President Donald Trump in recent months following the initiation of diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel.
The F-35 sale includes four spare P&W F135 engines, access to the Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN), training systems and devices, access to a data reprogramming centre, an initial logistics, training and spares package, and ferry delivery support.
The sale of the 18 MQ-9B “weapons-ready” aircraft is valued at US$2.97bn (A$4.07bn), and includes certifiable ground control stations (CGCS), due-regard radars, Raytheon Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems-D (MTS-D) EO/IR sensors, Lynx AN/APY-8 synthetic aperture radars (SAR) with ground moving target indicator (GTMI), SeaSpray 7500 maritime radars,
Also included are 515 AGM-114R Hellfire anti-armour missiles, provision for GBU-12 and GBU-58 laser and GPS-guided weapons, anti-submarine (ASW) acoustic sensors and sonobuoys, and training, spares, and an initial spares package.
The MQ-9B is capable of operating in the crowded controlled airspace of the Persian Gulf region, while the SeaSpray radar and ASW provides a flexible maritime capability to the system.