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UAE defense ministry says French warplanes not an alternative for US fighter jets

UAE defense ministry says the purchase of French warplanes is not an alternative for US fighter jets

The UAE defense (The United Arab Emirates) ministry has said the acquisition of French Rafale fighter jets would complement the UAE’s planned purchase of American F-35 fighter jets, which has been slowed owing to Washington’s concerns about Abu Dhabi’s relationship with China.

In an arms procurement for 17 billion euros ($19.2 billion), the Gulf Arab state acquired 80 Dassault Aviation Rafales and 12 Airbus Helicopters Caracal combat helicopters on Friday.

The Rafale jets will replace the UAE’s French-built Mirage 2000 fleet, according to Major General Ibrahim Nasser Al Alawi, the head of the UAE Air Force and Air Defense.

“This deal is not seen as a replacement for the upcoming F-35 sale; rather, a complimentary deal… as we try to improve our air force capabilities,” Alawi said, adding that the UAE had been looking for a replacement for its Mirage fleet for some time.

The sale of 50 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets to the UAE has stalled due to worries in Washington about Abu Dhabi’s connection with China, notably the country’s use of Huawei 5G technology.

Last month, a US official stated that the US plans to proceed with the transaction, but that “Emirati duties” must be clearly understood.

After the UAE forged connections with Israel last year, the US agreed to sell the jets under then-President Donald Trump. The transaction will be completed this year, according to President Joe Biden’s administration.

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