The Biden administration is “temporarily” halting F-35 Lightning II sale to UAE

The US plans to reevaluate the Trump administration’s decision to sell F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates. A US State Department official said on Wednesday that the Biden administration “temporarily paused” for review several pending arms sales to US allies, amounting to billions of dollars. Among them are sales of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE and precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia.


The US official said the freeze is not unusual; many administrations reassess their predecessor’s decisions on arms sales, and they may still proceed in the end, The Wall Street Journal reported. The F-35 sale came soon after the UAE and Israel signed a peace and normalization agreement mediated by the Trump administration, known as the Abraham Accords.

Though the warplanes were not officially part of the Abraham Accords, UAE officials said soon after the agreement was announced that they hoped it would help the US approve their longstanding request to purchase F-35s.

Israel is currently the only country in the Middle East in the F-35 program. Defense Minister Benny Gantz flew to Washington in October to discuss the matter with his American counterpart at the time, Mark Esper, and they reached understandings that would maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge, as required by US law.

US President Joe Biden promised during his election campaign that he would ensure that Saudi Arabia does not use American weapons in Yemen, where a proxy war with Iran has led to widespread hunger and many civilian deaths.