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UAE insists that French jets no substitute for American F-35s

The UAE’s defense ministry said the acquisition of French Rafale fighter jets would complement the UAE’s planned purchase of American F-35 fighter jets, which has been slowed due to Washington’s concerns about Abu Dhabi’s relationship with China.

In an arms procurement for 17 billion euros ($19.2 billion), the Gulf state acquired 80 Dassault Aviation Rafales and 12 Airbus Helicopters Caracal combat helicopters from France on Friday.

The Rafale jets will replace the UAE’s French-built Mirage 2000 fleet, according to Major General Ibrahim Nasser Al Alawi, head of the UAE Air Force and Air Defence, in a statement on state news agency WAM late Saturday.

“This deal is not considered as an alternative for the forthcoming F-35 deal, it is rather a complementary deal … as we develop our air force capabilities,” Alawi said, adding the UAE had for some time been looking to replace its Mirage fleet.

US arms sale to UAE

Last month, a US official announced that the US intends to move forward with the sale of 50 F-35 stealth fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, but there must be a clear understanding of “Emirati obligations.” 

Mira Resnick, a deputy US assistant secretary of state, said in a call with reporters: “We continue consulting with Emirati officials to ensure we have unmistakable, clear mutual understanding concerning Emirati obligations and actions before, during, and after delivery.” Resnick did not elaborate on what these obligations are.

The sale of 50 F-35 fighter jets to the UAE was halted due to US worries about Abu Dhabi’s ties with China, notably the country’s use of Huawei 5G technology

After the UAE normalized ties with “Israel” last year, the US agreed to sell the jets under then-President Donald Trump. The transaction will be completed this year, according to President Joe Biden’s administration.

French arms sale to UAE 

The investigative French website Disclose revealed that France delivered tens of thousands of arms to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar during President Francois Hollande’s reign in 2016, despite knowing that they would be used in the war on Yemen.

The website quoted “secret defense documents” that “since 2016, France has allowed the delivery of about 150,000 shells” to its two Gulf allies.

Documents belonging to the General Secretariat for Defense and National Security show that there were intense discussions between the Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, which were settled by Hollande according to the site. 

Source: English Al-Mayadeen

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