US approves $2 billion arms sale to UAE
The US State Department has approved a $2 billion arms sale to the UAE.
Approved on 11 May, the deal includes 60 Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) missiles and 100 Patriot Guidance Enhanced-Tactical (GEM-T) missiles.
The package also entails US technical, engineering and logistical support, according to a statement released by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).
One of several key US allies to acquire the system, the UAE is a strategic ally in the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda in Yemen.
Between 2012-2016, the UAE was the second largest beneficiary of US arms exports (behind Saudi Arabia), according to the Stockholm International Peace Institute.
Since 2009, the US has provided 63% of all major weaponry to the country, which doubled its defence budget from $9.7 billion to over $22 billion in the last decade.
‘This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of an important ally which has been, and continues to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,’ the DSCA statement said.
The Pentagon statement added that the sale ‘will enhance interoperability with US forces and increase security’ while assuring that the regional military balance will not be fundamentally compromised.
The UAE views Iran as a threat and participates in the Saudi-led coalition against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The US has provided aerial refueling of the coalition aircraft and the British have also supplied arms, although the high civilian toll has drawn domestic criticism of their involvement.
The UAE has also controversially participated in the suppression of a democratic movement in Bahrain, and has been reportedly equipping a Russian-backed faction fighting against the US and UN-backed government in Libya.