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UAE publishes paper on the F-35 "Frontline Defense for the UAE, US and Partners"



By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

The United Arab Emirates has published a white paper on the importance of the F-35 and the reported sale of the planes to Abu Dhabi. The deal, part of a larger $23 billion deal announced in November 2020, "is much more then selling military hardware to a partner. It is about advancing a more stable and secure Middle East. It enables the UAE to take on more of the burden for collective security from the United States," the paper says. The paper can be downloaded on the website of the UAE Embassy in the US.


Of particular interest, the importance of the sale is illustrated by reference to Israel. Former US General David Petraeus is quoted as saying "When I was the Commander of US Central Command, I assessed that, if necessary, the Emirati Air Force could more than take on the Iranian Air Force if augmented with AWACS and air refueling. I maintain that assessment, and the addition of F-35s will help the UAE maintain its capability relative to that of Iran. Given that, and given Israel’s support for Emirati acquisition of the F-35, US approval of that purchase is both advisable and timely.” Peace with Israel is a key component of this.


A page from the white paper.

Key points include:


- With Israel’s full acceptance of reassurances that the US will “maintain Israel’s security superiority in the Middle East for decades to come,” the sale of the F-35 is also consistent with US policy and law to uphold Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME).


- The signing of the UAE-Israel Accord was a disruptive reminder that Emiratis and Israelis, and all the people of the Middle East are tired of conflict. The region wants positive change. The priority now is to continue to modernize and to stabilize the broader region.


- The US intelligence community estimates that Tehran’s missiles are likely to keep growing in both power and technical sophistication, thus creating new strategic challenges for the UAE, the US, Israel and other partners.


- The UAE-Israel Accord signified both the importance of and the shift in the US’ continuing role in the Middle East. It only could happen with the influence of American diplomacy and the reassurance of its security commitments. For other coverage of the UAE F-35 deal see articles here and here.


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