US President Biden suspends sales of F-35 to UAE and of munitions to Saudi Arabia

U.S. President Joe Biden has suspended the sale of F-35 jets (worth some USD 23 Bn) to the United Arab Emirates, Bloomberg's defense reporter Anthony Capaccio said in a tweet on January 27. The sale of munitions to Saudi Arabia is also suspended for review.

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US President Biden suspends sales of F 35 to UAE and of munitions to Saudi Arabia

Hill Air Force Base F-35As fly in formation over the Utah Test and Training Range, March 30, 2017. (Picture souce: U.S. Air Force/R. Nial Bradshaw)

The sale cleared by former president Trump in the last days of his mandate concerns F-35 Lightning IIs that might be built in a way that ensures the same planes owned by Israel outperform any others sold in the region. Furthermore, Lockheed Martin has been instructed that any F-35 sold to foreign governments not be able to match the performance of U.S. jets, said both a congressional staffer and a source familiar with past sales.

Congressional critics have expressed disapproval with such sales, including the deal with Saudi Arabia, that then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed through after bypassing lawmakers by declaring an emergency required it, The Times of Israel writes. The critics have alleged the weapons could be used to aid Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Because the transfer of such weapons takes years to come about, the Biden administration could block the deal, but there’s little precedent for a president to scrap such agreements made by a predecessor, The Times of Israel comments.