The United Arab Emirates were identified as a strategic prospect by Rostec, and this from the start of the communication around this program. Moscow and Abu Dhabi have in fact been discussing a joint light fighter program for several years, while the Arab state has already purchased several major equipment from Russian industrialists, including the Pantsir S-1 anti-aircraft system. . With the announcement of the UAE's intention to acquire 50 F-35As from the United States, the chances for the Russian defense industrial conglomerate to establish itself in the country fell dramatically. With the putting on hold of this program by Joe Biden following his accession to the White House, Russian hopes were rekindled, and the Su-75 was the center of attention at the Dubai Air Show in November 2021.
But it is undoubtedly the order of 80 Rafale planes from France announced in December 2021, then the announcement of the suspension of negotiations between Abu Dhabi and Washington on the subject of the F-35s due to the lack of progress for a year, which gave color to Russian ambitions for its device towards this customer. Since these, the Russian services are multiplying the openings in an attempt to attract the UAE authorities to consider cooperation within the framework of the development of the Checkmate. And arguments, the Russians are not lacking, since according to the DefenseNews website, they would not hesitate to offer a co-production on a 60% / 40% basis about the Su-75, with very important technology transfers to the key for the UAE aeronautical and defense industry, subject a strategic ambition on the part of the country.
In fact, the Russian offer seems very attractive for Abu Dhabi, and could be interpreted as a rapprochement between the UAE and Russia. However, we must be careful about such an interpretation. Indeed, the most probable hypothesis is that Abu Dhabi would reproduce here the strategy implemented by Riyadh in 2017, when theSaudi Arabia announces order for S-400 batteries from Russia after Washington blocked export permits for certain critical military materials in response to the Saudi intervention in Yemen. However, a few months later, Saudi Arabia was allowed to order new Patriot PAC-3 batteries and especially the acquisition of THAAD anti-missile batteries, and became the first country to be able to acquire this particularly sensitive system.
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