From Al Dhafra Air Base, the UAE operates 80 of the most technologically advanced US-supplied F-16 aircraft – the Block 60 “Desert Falcon.” In close cooperation with the US, the UAE has used these advanced aircraft against violent extremists, to confront aggression, protect vital shipping routes, and promote regional stability.
This track record illustrates the UAE Air Force’s preparedness to operate the F-35 Lightning II aircraft. Following a December 2020 Senate vote to approve the UAE's acquisition of the F-35 and other advanced defense systems, the sale is currently under review by US Administration officials. The F-35 package is much more than selling military hardware to a partner. Like the US, it allows the UAE to maintain a strong deterrent to aggression. In parallel with new dialogue and security cooperation, it helps to reassure regional partners. It also enables the UAE to take on more of the regional burden for collective security, freeing US assets for other global challenges, a long-time bipartisan US priority.