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UAE-owned arms company wants to help produce F-35 fighter jets

Biden suspended the sale of weapons to the United Arab Emirates approved by Trump in his final days of office
EDGE CEO Faisal al-Bannai said his company was ready to produce missiles and parts for the F-35 fighter if sales of the warplane to the UAE were approved (AFP)

The United Arab Emirate's state-owned arms company EDGE said on Tuesday that it hoped to produce parts for F-35 fighter jets if Washington agreed to sell the US warplanes to the Gulf country. 

Earlier this year, the Joe Biden administration said it was re-examining the sale of 50 F-35 fighter jets, 18 drones and other military equipment to the UAE, approved by US President Donald Trump in his final days in office.

Speaking at the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, EDGE's CEO Faisal al-Bannai said on Tuesday that his company could carry out maintenance and repairs on the fighters, and also develop weapons such as missiles for the jets. 

"Any platform that is coming to the country, we are now getting heavily involved in this supply chain in whatever component that makes sense for the client and for us," Bannai said.

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EDGE, a $5bn state defence company tasked with supplying advanced weaponry to the UAE armed forces, is focused on developing drones, unmanned vehicles, smart weapons and electric warfare equipment.

Bannai said the company had reached an agreement with Lockheed Martin to "explore industrial participation opportunities across the UAE's aerospace and defence industry".

He also said that EDGE was in "advanced discussions" with several Israeli defence companies on jointly funding and developing missiles and unmanned platforms. 

It remains unclear when Biden's administration will complete its review of the fighter jet sales. 

Commenting on the US review, Bannai said: "Every country has their process. I think they will go through their process and come to what is a right decision for them."

The UAE's ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, however, said that he was confident the sale would go through. 

The F-35, dubbed the most advanced fighter jet in the world, is a major part of a $23bn sale of high-tech weaponry from General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies corp to the UAE.