Report: US planning to sell drones to UAE

Reuters report: State Department notified Congress it plans to sell 18 sophisticated armed aerial drones to the United Arab Emirates.

Elad Benari , | updated: 6:41 AM

Drones and cameras
Drones and cameras

The US State Department gave Congress informal notification it plans to sell 18 sophisticated armed aerial drones to the United Arab Emirates, people briefed on the notification told Reuters on Thursday.

The deal is reportedly worth as much as $2.9 billion, according to the news agency.

This would mark the first armed drone export since the Trump administration reinterpreted a Cold War-era arms agreement between 34 nations to allow US defense contractors to sell more drones to allies.

A State Department spokesman told Reuters, “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

Thursday’s report comes a week after the White House notified Congress that it intends to sell 50 F-35 aircraft to the United Arab Emirates.

In the wake of the recent agreement on normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE, the Trump administration has accelerated a push to sell the F-35 stealth fighter and advanced armed drones to the UAE.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz recently announced that Israel would not oppose a US sale of advanced weapons systems to the United Arab Emirates.

Trump administration officials have sought to reassure Israeli leaders that any sale of F-35s will not harm Israel’s qualitative military edge. Netanyahu and Gantz’s statement came after Gantz visited Washington where he met with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and signed a deal that ensures Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.

US lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have expressed concern over the potential sale of F-35 jets to the UAE and vowed to ensure that Israel can maintain its qualitative military edge.

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has also expressed concern about the Trump administration’s plans to sell stealth combat aircraft to the United Arab Emirates.