The F-35 moves further away from the United Arab Emirates

At the beginning of December 2021, the United Arab Emirates and France announced the signing of a historic €14 billion contract relating, among other things, to the acquisition of 80 aircraft Rafale F4 to replace the UAE Mirage 2000-9.

This decision followed the suspension, by Joe Biden, of a potential contract with the United States for the purchase of 50 F-35As and 9 MQ-9B Gardian drone systems, by Abu Dhabi, in January 2021. For the American president, the security requirements for the export of the F-35A were, in fact, not met by the UAE, even though they had awarded the Chinese Huawei the contract for the deployment of 5G in the country .

Since then, the Emirati F-35As have, on several occasions, been invited into the news, whether to announce the resumption of negotiations on this subject, or to note the obvious absence of progress in this area. As such, the annual negotiations held between Abu Dhabi and Washington this week do not give much cause for optimism for Lockheed Martin.

The F-35 absent from the annual negotiations between Washington and Abu Dhabi

Indeed, the report concerning these negotiations, while it reports significant advances in the civil industrial and technological field, as well as around future American-designed Gardian drones, no mention is made of the American stealth fighter.

Trump January 6, 2021
Donald Trump signed the Emirati order concerning, among other things, 50 F-35As, the day before his transfer of power to Joe Biden.

Remember that two weeks after the announcement of the order for 80 Rafale with France, the Emirati authorities had made public the end of negotiations with the United States regarding the F-35. According to Abu Dhabi, no progress had been made in a year of negotiations, after Joe Biden suspended this contract, a few days after taking office.

In fact, the absence of reference to the F-35 in these annual discussions probably does not bode well for this contract, and perhaps for the special relations maintained by the United Arab Emirates, as well as the Saudi Arabia, with the United States, in this region.

The specter of rapprochement between the United Arab Emirates and China

If this information is worrying for Washington, it is not a surprise, far from it. Indeed, not only the Chinese Huawei has successfully completed the contract relating to the 5G network in the UAE, but Abu Dhabi and Beijing have become closer in many areas for three years now.

Thus, the first Chinese Hongdu L-15A Falcon advanced training aircraft, ordered by the UAE Air Force, were delivered in 2023, and are already participating in the education and training of their fighter pilots.

Hongdu L-15A Falcon
The UAE has ordered 48 Hongdu L-15A Falcon advanced trainer aircraft from Beijing.

But it is, without the slightest doubt, the negotiations initiated between the two countries, concerning the possible construction of a Chinese military base in the country, able to accommodate forces of the People's Liberation Army, which tend to prevent any progress on the F-35 in this country.


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