US reaffirms commitment to UAE F-35 sale at Dubai Airshow

Senior US official met Emirati officials to discuss sale during Dubai Airshow

FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo
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A senior US official said on Tuesday while visiting the Dubai Airshow that President Joe Biden's administration remains committed to following through with the sale of 50 F-35 fighter jets to the UAE.

Mira Resnick, who oversees US arms sales in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, noted that she had discussed the sale in meetings with Emirati officials during her visit, saying there had been a "sustained dialogue" with UAE officials.

Ms Resnick visited the Dubai Airshow as part of a 300-person delegation from Washington consisting of civilian and military officials.

“The Biden-Harris administration intends to move forward with those proposed defence sales to the UAE even as we continue consulting with Emirati officials to ensure that we have unmistakably clear, mutual understandings with respect to Emirati obligations and actions before, during and after delivery,” said Ms Resnick.

The US agreed to sell the UAE its top-of-the-line fighter jets as part of a broader $23 billion arms sale under former president Donald Trump shortly after the country signed on to the Abraham Accords, normalising relations with Israel.

Ms Resnick noted in an interview with The Associated Press that the Biden administration is seeking clarifications on certain commitments the UAE made to the Trump administration when agreeing to the sale, but declined to detail the specifics that the Biden administration is seeking.

Major arms sales typically take years to complete, and Ms Resnick noted that the production dates for US defence firm Lockheed Martin to produce the advanced F-35 aircraft for the UAE are “far in the future for those sales".

In the meantime, Russia displayed its newly unveiled fighter jet at the Dubai Airshow — the Sukhoi Su-75 Checkmate.

Ms Resnick said that other nations do not provide the overall package that the US does.

“The United States remains the partner of choice of all of our partners and allies in the region,” said Ms Resnick.

“It’s really because none of our strategic competitors are able to offer what the United States offers, which is a relationship working with us on security co-operation.”

Updated: November 16, 2021, 5:33 PM