After F-35 Deal Falls Through, UAE Looks to China For New Warplane

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F-35 during its hibernarion phase (Credits: RTX)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been wanting to buy advanced F-35 fighter jets from the United States for years. This deal, however, seems to be stuck due to complex political reasons.

The US balances friendships with several countries in the Middle East, but some of these allies have tense relationships. For example, while Israel (a close US partner) wants to maintain a military advantage, the US also wants to keep good ties with the UAE and other Arab nations. The US provides weapons to these countries, but it carefully avoids upsetting the balance of power in the region, especially in Israel’s favor.

F-35s in action (Credits: Lockhead Martin)

There was hope for progress in 2020 when the UAE normalized relations with Israel. This seemed to pave the way for the F-35 sale. However, a US law restricts arms sales that could weaken Israel’s military edge. With negotiations stalled, there are rumors that the UAE might look elsewhere for fighter jets – specifically, China’s J-20.

There’s a catch, though. Just like the US restricts exports of its top fighter jet (the F-22 Raptor), China also has restrictions on selling the J-20. So, while the UAE might be exploring options, it’s not a sure thing they’ll be able to buy China’s fighter jet either.

Frustrated by the F-35 Deal

The UAE’s dream of acquiring the top-of-the-line F-35 fighter jet from the US seems to be fading. After years of negotiations, the deal is stuck due to complicated political issues. The US has to walk a tightrope, maintaining good relations with both Israel (who want to keep the best jets for themselves) and the UAE. A US law also restricts arms sales, which could upset the regional balance.

F-35’s takeoff (Credits:

Looking East for Wings

With the US deal on hold, the UAE is reportedly exploring options with China. Their choice? The mighty Chengdu J-20 fighter jet, also known as the “Mighty Dragon.” This is another powerful fifth-generation aircraft.

However, there’s a snag here too. Just like the US doesn’t sell its most advanced F-22 Raptor to other countries, China also restricts exports of the J-20. Even their ally, Pakistan, couldn’t get their hands on one. So, while the UAE might be considering China’s jet, it’s not guaranteed they’ll be able to buy it.


By Aaron

From Vintage Classics to Modern Marvels, Aaron is deeply immersed in the Automobile culture. He is from Kerala and a Man of Few words. He is Someone who loves to spend his free time reading automobile articles and watching TV Shows.

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