Abu Dhabi, November 13: Amid rising tensions with Qatar and Iran over the issue of terrorism and extremism, the United Arab Emirates has taken a massive step to pay Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) $1.63 billion to upgrade 80 F-16 jet fighters with an aim to boost its defence sector.
Major General Abdullah Al Sayed Al Hashemi, Chief of the Military Committee and spokesman for the UAE Armed Forces on Sunday said that the United Arab Emirates will pay Lockheed Martin Corp 6 billion dirhams ($1.63 billion) to upgrade 80 F-16 jet fighters.
While speaking at a news conference at the Dubai Airshow, Major General Abdullah Al Sayed Al Hashemi also announced of other deals including 6 million dirhams to U.S.-based OTNA INC for Blu-109 ammunition and a 35 million dirham agreement with Thales Communications and Security SAS (TCFP.PA) to secure country’s defence communications.
The Military Chief also noted that the UAE is also interested in fifth-generation fighter jets with a preference for Lockheed Martin’s F-35. Notably, the US has sold the F-35 to a range of allies, including Turkey, South Korea, Japan, and Israel. Major General Abdullah further added that he was optimistic that the UAE would be able to buy the F-35 in the near future. “It is an excellent jet,” he said while refusing to give details on talks with the U.S. administration.
Interestingly, the UAE has been waging war, along with its closest regional ally Saudi Arabia, against the Houthi group in neighboring Yemen, while tensions are also high with the Iran and Qatar.