The Israeli military has denied that a military delegation from the United Arab Emirates was recently hosted by the Israel Air Force to review the F-35 stealth fighter jets.
According to a report by i24news, the delegation visited the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel accompanied by an American delegation to learn about the world’s most advanced fighter jet.
Israel is the only air force in the Middle East to have the jet. In May, IAF commander Amikam Norkin announced that the air force had used the F-35I Adir in combat operations for the first time
– in two operational missions on different fronts in the Middle East, showing a photograph of the jet over the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
Israel’s air force received three more of the Lockheed Martin jets in mid-June, bringing the total amount currently flown by Israel to 12. It is expected to receive a total of 50 planes by 2024, enough to make two full squadrons.
Israel’s F-35I Adir is heavily tailor- made to Israel’s own specifications and is embedded with Israeli-made electronic warfare pods as well as Israeli weaponry, all installed once the planes have landed in Israel. The jets also have a unique overriding Israeli-built C4 (Command, Control, Communications and Computing) system that runs “on top” of Lockheed’s built-in operating system.
The Israeli F-35Is also have components built by several local defense companies including Israel Aerospace Industries which produces the outer wings; Elbit System-Cyclone that builds the center fuselage composite components; and Elbit Systems Ltd. which manufactures the helmets worn by the pilots.
Israel is also the only partner nation to have secured permission from the US to perform depot-level maintenance, including overhauling engines and airframe components, within its borders.
While Israel and the UAE have no official relations, the declining importance of the Palestinian conflict as a significant issue between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council and the increased threat posed by Iranian expansion in the region has led some Gulf monarchies to engage with Jerusalem.
In 2011 the UAE bought an estimated $300 million in military technology and in 2015 the Jewish state was allowed to open up a permanent mission accredited to the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi.
Israeli pilots have also flown alongside pilots from the UAE
in several air force drills including the last two Iniohos
(charioteer) exercises in Greece; last August the IAF participated in the Red Flag exercises in the United States which included aircraft from the UAE and Pakistan – which also doesn’t have any formal relations with Israel.
The United States has long allowed Israel to retain a qualitative military edge in the Middle East; requests by Gulf countries for Washington to provide them with F-35s have been repeatedly been denied.
The UAE, which is among the world’s biggest defense spender, is currently in the process of building up its armed forces; its air force has made no secret that it is interested in purchasing the fifth-generation fighter jet.
According to the Arabian Aerospace news site, Deputy Commander of the UAE Air Force Brig.-Gen. Rashed Al Shamsi stated that Washington “could now be willing to sell” the F-35 to the UAE.
The UAE Air Force, he was quoted as saying, “required connected multirole platforms with the ability to share data, which had enhanced intelligence collection and distribution capabilities, and that was capable of timely and reactive dynamic targeting,” and “to have a fifth-generation capability is something of interest to the UAE Air Force and Air Defense.”
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