Lockheed’s F-35s to keep US exports to UAE strong

Following the news that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed a deal to procure defense equipment including 50 F-35s, 18 MQ-9s, and missiles from the US worth up to $23bn;

Sai Kiran, Defense Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“If this deal goes ahead, it could signal a new era for US arms exports to the UAE. The UAE will have potential to enhance its air capabilities and the US will be able to bolster their partner’s military capabilities in the Middle East region to counter Iran.

“While Lockheed Martin had only recently withdrawn itself from an MRO space in the UAE, this deal helps cements its pivotal role for the UAE and a long-term supplier for the region. An increasing determination in the region to improving military capabilities and greater interoperability with NATO forces to conduct joint operations will support the growth of Lockheed Martin and other US defense companies in the region over the coming years.

“The UAE is one of the closest partners of the US in the Middle East besides Saudi Arabia, with the UAE’s imports from the US being close to 65% of total imports. Developments in relations with Israel and an increased focus on countering Iran would have tipped the scales in its favor for this deal despite severe concerns from members of congress.

“According to GlobalData, the UAE is estimated to invest US$8.4bn on the procurement of US based aircraft platforms between 2020 and 2030. Additionally, the UAE is anticipated to spend over US$15.1bn, US$12.2bn and US$2.1bn on the procurement of aircraft, missile and missile defense systems, and UAVs, respectively, from 2020 to 2030.

“The UAE has spent a considerable amount on the import of missile defense systems, armored vehicles, fighter jets, transport aircraft and artillery systems, as a result of the country’s focus on military modernization. The country has also invested in research and development, local manufacturing, and developing industry support to segue into a regional supplier of certain defense equipment and even an MRO center for military aviation. However, the UAE is anticipated to remain a major global arms importer.”

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