In what's being hailed as a game-changer in the region, the United Arab Emirates will receive up to 50 F-35 advanced stealth fighter jets from the United States.
The deal also includes 18 battle-ready MQ-9B aerial drones and air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions in a deal worth nearly $24 billion, according to the AP.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Trump administration formally notified Congress on Tuesday following its authorization by the State Department.
It marks the most concrete major step to have followed the historic normalization of ties between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain known as the Abraham Accords, which was brokered by the White House and finalized on September 15.
"This is in recognition of our deepening relationship and the UAE’s need for advanced defense capabilities to deter and defend itself against heightened threats from Iran," Pompeo said in in making the announcement.
"The UAE’s historic agreement to normalize relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to positively transform the region’s strategic landscape," Pompeo continued.
When rumblings of the major F-35 transfer to an Arab state first began late summer into September, a number of Congressional leaders (not to mention Israel itself) worried this could breach the US official policy of Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME). Essentially this says that by law Washington must ensuring Israel has military superiority over its neighbors.
Mike Pompeo approves sale of F-35s to the UAE. A regional game changer. pic.twitter.com/vH0x3haEnB— Ranj Alaaldin (@RanjAlaaldin) November 10, 2020
Pompeo addressed both the concern over QME as well as the 'counter Iran' angle in his statement. "Our adversaries, especially those in Iran... will stop at nothing to disrupt this shared success," he stated.
"The proposed sale will made the UAE even more capable and interoperable with US partners in a manner fully consistent with America's longstanding commitment to ensuring Israel's Qualitiative Military Edge."
Meanwhile Amnesty International and other human rights groups are protesting the transfer, given the UAE's role in executing the war in Yemen, currently considered by the UN to be the biggest humanitarian disaster on the planet.