UAE has announced it ceased an arms deal with the US to purchase F-35 fighter jets along with MQ9 drones. US-China arms and technologic competition underlies the new policy.
The UAE has halted a $23b contract with the US to acquire F-35 Fighter jets squad. The move indicates the country’s rising dissatisfaction with Biden administration’s efforts to curb Chinese electronics cooperation with the UAE.
According to the remarks by Emirati officials, the political constraints by the US over China’s technologic involvement in the UAE was the reason behind the new policy. “Technical requirements, sovereign operational restrictions, and cost/benefit analysis led to the re-assessment,” an anonymous official in Abu Dhabi said.
The same official, nevertheless, referred to the attempt to reach a two-way understanding between the two countries. The outcome, by the way, proved disappointing indicating a failure of Washington in adjusting the regional strategies.
The wealthy kingdom of UAE still kept the doors open for the future saying “the US remains the UAE’s preferred provider for advanced defense requirements and discussions for the F-35 Fighter jets may be re-opened in the future.”
Abu Dhabi’s decision can be seen in light of another contract with France to purchase 80 Rafale jets. Securing a replacement for military supply and prioritizing Chinese technology, Abu Dhabi made the controversial decision about US arms deal.
Following the decision by Abu Dhabi, Washington maintained that the US keeps its commitment to the pact. Considered as the foundation of Emirati normalization of ties with Israel last year, the US committed to supply UAE with 50 F-35 Fighter jets and MQ9 fighter drones.
The transaction, however, has been under dispute, for the past year with American senators voicing reservations about the agreement. UAE is the first American deal with an Arab state over such high technological military equipment.
F-35 Fighter jets vis-à-vis Chinese Technology
The White House has pressed Abu Dhabi to remove Chinese Huawei from its broadband system. Washington claims that the equipment might compromise the integrity of Emirati military hardware.
Washington was pushing on requirements to ensure the F-35 fighter jets were not subject to Chinese surveillance. The Wall Street Journal revealed the impasse in bilateral understanding yesterday prompting American officials to respond.
Far from security concerns, Washington’s push for constraining Chinese technology relates its attempts to contain Beijing’s power. The economic rivalry between the United States and China is entering new phases with technology and military equipment blending to for a new discipline.
The US can counter any military hostility considering its massive reservoir of advanced military equipment. Nevertheless, the modern technology opened the doors for new fast-developing equipment that turn to a potential threat for American faculty.
The new policy comes just few weeks after Abu Dhabi decided to purchase 80 Rafale jets from France. Macron’s recent visit secured the $15.8-billion deal, demonstrating that there are even military alternatives for Washington.
The $23.37 billion deal between UAE and the US included 50 F-35 fighter jets (lightning II), and 18 MQ-9B advanced drones. and a bundle of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. Besides, Raytheon Technologies, General Atomics, and Lockheed Martin committed to provide UAE with a bundle of air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry.
US congress also referred to a possibility of the utility of equipment in Yemen war as the reason for hesitations. While not out of picture, the congress is addressing the Yemen war only after 6 years of devastations.
The UAE battlefield between US and China proved a signpost to the future of Washington role in global developments. Like it or not, Beijing’s stable development in almost all fields affects US as traditional superpower.