Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said it selling F-35 II joint strike fighter jets to United Arab Emirates doesn’t pose an actual and strategic threat to his country.
The Hebrew newspaper “Maariv”, on Friday evening, quoted Olmert as saying it the sale of American “stealth” aircraft to the United Arab Emirates is part of the peace agreement between the two countries, and it is clear that if the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had not given his prior approval of this arms deal, the agreement wouldn’t have been done, basically.
Olmert stated that relations between his country and the Emirates are constantly developing, and they began during the term of Yitzhak Rabin and after him Shimon Peres, in the 1990s, and after them Netanyahu’s first term (1996-1999), and after them, Ariel Sharon and Olmert himself.
President Donald Trump’s administration has notified Congress of its intent to sell 50 Lockheed Martin F-35 II joint strike fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, in a sale that could amount to $10 billion.
The news Thursday came less than two months after the signing of the Abraham Accord, an agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, which has opened up a wealth of opportunities in trade, technology and security cooperation.
The UAE has for years had its eye on the F-35, the most advanced fighter jet platform on the market. But the main hurdle was Israel, which is legally guaranteed a qualitative military edge (QME) by the U.S. that ensures a technological advantage over its neighbors and exclusive access to some of America’s best arms.
So it was major news when Israel’s defense minister last week said the country would not oppose Washington selling “certain weapons systems” to the Emiratis — widely interpreted as a green light for the F-35, which Israel already owns.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
Number built: 570+ as of October 2020
Developed from: Lockheed Martin X-35
First flight: 15 December 2006; 13 years ago (F-35A)
Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
Status: In service
Role: Stealth multirole fighter