The top Senator Foreign Relations Committee leaders invoked Israel’s need to have a qualitative military edge (QEM), which could make the possible sale of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter to the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) anything but a “done deal.”
In a show of bipartisanship, both Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) highlighted their concerns to State Department officials over the deal.
“With all due respect, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if Israel’s the only country in the Middle East that has F-35s, that selling it to someone else no longer produces that qualitative military edge in the air,” said Menendez, as reported by Defense News.
The proposed sale of the fifth-generation fighter jets to the UAE could present a long-term negative strategic impact for the State of Israel, warned the nation’s Air Force Chief Amikam Norkin.
While the sale of the aircraft to the UAE isn’t part of the U.S.-brokered normalization agreement between Israel and the Gulf state, the sale of the jets was seen as having been essentially contingent upon Abu Dhabi’s acceptance of the deal, The Times of Israel reported.