The United States finally inked an agreement for the sale of 50 F-35 stealth combat jets to the United Arab Emirates, barely an hour before incoming President Joe Biden was sworn into office, according to the Reuters news agency.
The deal, negotiated months ago with the Trump Administration, was long opposed by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives, and was not enthusiastically endorsed by the Republican-led Senate.
The document, which makes the $23 billion purchase request by the Abu Dhabi government official, was reportedly in the hands of that government for more than a week, according to the source who spoke with Reuters.
The timing also gave the UAE a chance to accept the negotiated schedule and the configuration of the jets, which are not expected to be delivered before 2027.
The delay was due to the schedule of the deliveries of the aircraft, the cost, the technology associated with the jets and the training that would go along with the agreement.
The Trump Administration had signed a separate agreement to sell the UAE 18 combat drones as well. In addition, the agreement includes a package of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally authorized the sale —pending for several years — after the signing of the Abraham Accords which normalized relations between the UAE and Israel.
Nevertheless, the Biden Administration is expected to take a second look at the deal.