Amikam Norkin
Amikam NorkinIDF Spokesperson's Unit

Amikam Norkin, Commander of the Israel Air Force, on Wednesday commented on the deal to sell F35 aircraft from the United States to the United Arab Emirates.

Speaking during a discussion at the Weizmann Institute, Norkin said, "We want to maintain our qualitative advantage. We have no quantitative advantage."

"I feel a deep American commitment, that was also agreed upon with the Minister of Defense two months ago, to the qualitative advantage. It is not so good for us to have advanced aircraft in the region," he added.

Norkin added the situation in the Middle East was very problematic, mainly due to the conduct of Iran. "We will not accept Iranian capabilities on the border and we will not accept the capabilities of precision missiles in Lebanon," he stressed.

In late October, the White House notified Congress that it intends to sell the F-35 aircraft to the United Arab Emirates. Subsequent reports said the US also plans to sell 18 sophisticated armed aerial drones to the UAE.

The Senate recently voted against two motions that would have stopped the sales, effectively putting the sales in motion.

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.

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.

President-elect Joe Biden’s aides have also expressed concern about the Trump administration’s plans to sell stealth combat aircraft to the United Arab Emirates.