With F-35 sale to UAE on horizon, Israel assembles team to ensure it keeps military edge

A senior security official told Israel Hayom, “We now enjoy winds of peace, but we live in an unstable area where the wind direction may change rapidly.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

As the sale of F-35 jets from the U.S. to the UAE draws nearer, Israel has assembled a committee of military and security experts to analyze how Israel can keep its qualitative military edge in the region, reported Israel Hayom on Sunday.

The experts’ findings would be presented as a list of requests to the American government. The team is headed by the Chief of the Planning and Building Division, Major General Tomer Bar.

Initial ideas for requests to the U.S. included asking to purchase F-22 fighter jets, but the idea was scrapped due to the high price and difficulty of maintaining the aircraft.

Some of the requests the team is reported to be mulling over include the purchase of V-22 transport helicopters and a squadron of F-15 jets.

Once finalized, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to raise these requests with President Donald Trump during his upcoming visit to the White House to sign the UAE peace deal.

A report by Yediot Ahronot just days after the announcement of the Israel-UAE peace deal revealed that the agreement included a clause giving the UAE permission to purchase advanced military technology, including F-35 fighter jets, from the U.S.

However, an Emirati official confirmed to Yediot Ahronot that Netanyahu gave his approval on the decision. The White House declined to comment on the matter.

Netanyahu vehemently denies that he approved the clause. He dismissed the report on Twitter, calling it “fake news.”

It’s thought that Israel is particularly worried about the UAE purchasing F-35 fighter jets. Currently, the Israeli Air Force is the only military in the Middle East which has these advanced aircraft with stealth capabilities.

Israel’s concerns are twofold, reported Israel Hayom. First, neighboring countries obtaining advanced military technology could lead to an arms race, and Israel may lose its qualitative military edge in the region.

Second, while the UAE currently has a stable government, regime change is always a possibility in the region. While the likelihood is small, if the UAE’s government was overthrown by forces hostile to Israel, who would then gain possession of F-35s, the results could be devastating for the Jewish State.

A senior security official told Israel Hayom, “We now enjoy winds of peace, but we live in an unstable area where the wind direction may change rapidly.”

“Therefore we always make sure to be at least one step ahead of any other country in the area, and preferably more than that.”