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US approves arms sale to Mideast allies, including F-16 warplanes for Jordan

A General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft of the United Arab Emirates Air Force performs a demonstration flight at the 2021 Dubai Airshow in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on November 15, 2021. (Photo by Getty Images)

The US State Department has approved sales of weapons, F-16 fighter jets and related equipment to Middle East allies, namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement on Thursday that the State Department approved Jordan's request for 12 F-16 C Block 70 fighter jets, radios targeting pods and associated munitions components including guided missile tail kits at an estimated cost of US$4.21 billion.

The Pentagon said the prime contractor for the jets is Lockheed Martin Corp.

Saudi Arabia also got the green light to purchase 31 Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT) for as much as US$23.7 million to upgrade its air missile systems.

The UAE was also approved to buy US$30 million worth of spare and repair parts for its Homing All the Way Killer (Hawk) missile defense systems.

This comes as there have been increased retaliatory Yemeni missile and drone attacks on the UAE in recent weeks.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital Sana’a on January 31, the spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces said that Yemeni troops and their allies had conducted Operation Yemen Storm III against the UAE, using homegrown ballistic missiles as well as combat drones.

Brigadier General Yahya Saree stated that the Yemeni forces struck designated sensitive facilities in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi with barrages of Zulfiqar ballistic missiles.

Saree noted that important targets in Dubai were also hit with long-endurance Sammad-3 (Invincible-3) drones.

The senior military official went on to note that “the UAE will remain unsafe as long as Israeli mercenaries in Abu Dhabi and Dubai continue to launch acts of aggression against our nation and homeland.”

Last November, the United States approved a $650m sale of air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia, in what was the Biden administration’s first major weapons deal with the Persian Gulf kingdom.

The Pentagon announced in a statement on November 4, 2021 that Massachusetts-based firm Raytheon would be the “principal contractor” for the sale of AIM-120C-7/C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and related equipment.

The sale came months after President Joe Biden said he would end US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive operations” in Yemen, including “relevant arms sales”.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies, backed by the United States and European powers, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.

The war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases there.

Despite heavily-armed Saudi Arabia’s incessant bombardment of the impoverished country, the Yemeni armed forces have gradually grown stronger, leaving Riyadh and its allies, most notably the UAE, bogged down in the country.

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