First F-35 Sale To UAE Could Still Be Years Away
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November 11, 2019 - by Steve Trimble - for aviationweek.com
During the same week as the Dubai Airshow in November 2009, Lockheed Martin celebrated the first flight of the AF-1 test aircraft for the F-35 development program, and a top air force official in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Naser Alalawi—publicly declared his "hope" that his country would procure a fifth-generation fighter " within a couple years." A decade later, Lockheed has delivered more than 435 F-35s to eight countries, but none so far to the UAE.
It was only two years ago that the UAE's potential F-35 order appeared more imminent. During the first year of U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, officials succeeded in reopening stalled negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council on several arms sales.
"The Obama administration would not talk about the F-35" to countries in the Middle East, says Derek Bisaccio, a regional market analyst for Forecast International.
"That seemed to change when Trump took office." U.S. defense officials openly discussed the "ongoing," early talks with the UAE about a potential F-35 deal during the last Dubai Airshow in 2017.
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