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Israeli firms hope to manufacture F-35 parts for UAE arms deal, report claims

The Israel Aerospace Industries plant in Lod, Israel, is hoping to supply F-35 wings [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 September, 2020

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Two Israeli arms manufacturers are aiming to secure contracts to manufacture parts for the F-35 planes the US plans to sell to UAE, despite opposition to the deal in Israel.

Israel's top aviation manufacturer is hope to make a profit from the potential sale of F-35 warplanes to the UAE, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming to be opposed to the deal, according to Israeli media.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which manufactures the wings of the top-flight stealth fighter jets, is vying to win the contract for the lucrative deal between the US and the UAEYedioth Ahronoth reported on Thursday.

Senior figures in the Israeli military as well as the prime minister have spoken out against the sale of F-35s and other cutting-edge weaponry to the UAE, citing the US' legal obligation to ensure Israel has a quantitative military edge over other states in the region.

Despite denouncing the deal in public, Netanyahu gave US officials his approval in a secret meeting, according to a New York Times investigation.

Although the US has denied the deal is linked to the normalisation agreement between UAE and Israel, many are sceptical.

The weapons deal, including the planes that UAE has for years been trying to procure, is widely seen as a reward to the Gulf kingdom for establishing ties with Israel.

The F-35 wings are only manufactured at three sites worldwide: The main Lockheed Martin factory in Texas, the Leonardo plant in Italy and the IAI factory in Lod, Israel.

It is thought that the Texas plant manufactures F-35s that are used within the US, while the Italy production site is for NATO states, while the Israeli factory is for planes sold to the rest of the world.

A pair of F-35 wings costs about $3 million.

In addition, Israel-based defence electronics company Elbit Systems is also expected to profit from the US-UAE deal,  as it manufactures parts of the F-35 pilot's helmet.

The specialised helmet contains an information-display device, allowing the pilot to view important data including targeting information, and has visual and infrared views of the world outside the airplane as well as a night-vision camera.

One helmet costs around 400,000 USD.

Ahead of the White House ceremony on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said he would have "no problem" selling advanced F-35 warplanes to the United Arab Emirates, despite objections from Israel.

In order to counter the sale, the Israeli military is reportedly planning to present the US with a chopping list of advanced military weapons that would ensure it keeps its military edge.

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