Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed on Tuesday that the United States plans to sell premium F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates as part of a $ 23.37 billion package.
The State Department sent a formal notice to Congress on the sale of the stealth precision aircraft, which the Arab ally had long been looking for and which was given the green light after agreeing to recognize Israel in September.
“The UAE’s historic agreement to normalize relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to positively transform the region’s strategic landscape,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“Our adversaries, especially those in Iran, know this and will stop at nothing to disrupt this shared success,” he said.
Democratic lawmakers had reported on Oct. 29 that the State Department had informally discussed the sale with Congress, which has the power to block arms sales.
The Democrats expressed mixed feelings, fearing that the sale would trigger an arms race in the region and jeopardize Israel’s undisputed military lead in the region.
But Israel dropped its objections to the sale as it sought even more high-tech equipment from the United States.
Pompeo confirmed that the sale would include up to 50 F-35s — equivalent to the size of Israel’s fleet of the Lockheed Martin aircraft, which can be used to gather intelligence, conduct airstrikes and carry out air-to-air combat.
He said the sale would also include up to 18 MQ-9B advanced drones as well as $10 billion worth of air and ground munitions.