Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson via Wikimedia Commons
A MQ-9 Reaper US military unmanned aerial vehicle prepares to land after a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Reaper has the ability to carry both precision-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles.

The U.S. State Department has informally notified Congress that “it plans to sell 18 sophisticated armed MQ-9B aerial drones to the United Arab Emirates in a deal worth as much as $2.9 billion,” reported Reuters on Thursday, citing those briefed on the notification.

“The armed MQ-9B drones will also be equipped with maritime radar and could be delivered in 2024,” according to the outlet, which reported that the sale would consist of 15 of these drones with an option for an additional three.

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The move comes a week after the State Department informally notified Congress that it intends to sell 50 F-35 fighter jets to the UAE.

The State Department could wait to formally notify Congress of the development once congressional staff and members are briefed on the pending sale, a source told Reuters. The formal notification provides Congress 30 days to object to any sale.

A State Department spokesperson told Reuters, “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

The pending sales to the UAE follow in the wake of the UAE, along with Bahrain, normalizing ties with Israel in September.

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