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UAE Delegation Reportedly Visited Israel to Learn about F-35 Operations

A military delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) visited Israel recently to learn about the operations of the F-35 stealth fighter, i24News reported Wednesday.

According to unspecified sources, a United States delegation was also present at the time the UAE delegation was there to learn more about Lockheed Martin-made planes. The UAE is considering buying a fleet of F-35s, which are called “game-changers,” as ties between moderate Arab states and Israel grow stronger in response to the shared threat from Iran.

Though generally kept quiet, the increasing contacts between Israel and a number of Arab countries continue to grow.

Israel has previously participated in multinational aerial exercises with the UAE. In March of last year, Israeli planes participated in the Iniohos 2017 exercise, which was hosted at Greece’s Andravida Air Base, together with aircraft from the United States, Greece, Italy and the UAE. During the previous August, the Israeli Air Force participated in the American-hosted Red Flag exercises that included aircraft from Pakistan and the UAE, neither of which have formal relations with Israel.

In November 2015, Israel established a diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, as part of  the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Like Israel, the UAE and other Arab allies praised President Donald Trump for withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran this past May.  At the time, Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, tweeted,  “Iran interpreted the JCPOA as concurrence of its regional hegemony. An aggressive Iran was emboldened as a result & its ballistic missile program became both offensive & exportable.”

In May, Israel announced that it had used the F-35 in combat operations for the first time, after Israel struck at a number of Iranian military assets in Syria.

[Photo: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem / Flickr ]