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Trump administration pushes $2.9 billion drone sale to UAE: report

The Trump administration also intends to sell F-35 jets to the UAE [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 November, 2020

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The White House has reportedly alerted Congress of its intention to sell sophisticated drones to Abu Dhabi.
The US State Department has notified Congress of its intention to sell as much as $2.9 billion worth of sophisticated drones to the United Arab Emirates, sources told Reuters.

The move comes a week after the Trump administration notified Congress of the potential sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.

The UAE has long had an interest in buying armed drones but was restricted under a previous interpretation of US export policy.

If approved, the sale of 18 MQ-9B drones to Abu Dhabi would be the first armed drone export since a reinterpration of the policy earlier this year. Earlier this week, the State Department notified Congress of its intention to sell unarmed but weapons-ready drones to Taiwan.

Congress has been informally notified of the State Department's intention to sell the drones but a formal and public notification is still incoming, sources familiar with the issue told Reuters.

Once formally notified, members of the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees have the ability to review and block weapons sales within 30 days.

The armed MQ-9B drones equipped with a maritime radar would likely be delivered by 2024, the sources said.

The UAE has long sought sophisticated weaponry such as drones and F-35 jets but has been blocked from acquiring them in previous years due to Washington's policy of maintaining Israel's "qualitative military edge" in the Middle East.

A US-brokered agreement in September to normalise ties between the UAE and Israel paved the way for such weapons sales, however.

The Emirati-Israeli normalisation agreement was met with disapproval by most Arabs, according to a public opinion survey, and was denounced by Palestinian leaders as a "stab in the back".

Washington has since assured Israel that any future weapons sales to the UAE will not dent Israel's military edge in the region.


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