Conflicting reports surfaced regarding a delegation from the United Arab Emirates that purportedly visited Israel recently to learn about the F-35 stealth fighter.
A military delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) visited Israel recently to learn about the performance of the F-35 stealth fighter, i24News reported last week.
According to unnamed sources, an American delegation was also present at the time the UAE delegation was In Israel.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been seeking to buy an unknown number of F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation fighter jets as ties between Arab states and Israel grow stronger in response to the shared threat from Iran.
However, the IDF denied that it had hosted the UAE military delegation to discuss F-35s, reported the Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
This episode follows several other recent reports of meetings and collaboration between the Jewish state and Gulf nations.
Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi have no diplomatic ties and the UAE does not recognize Israel but the two sides have increased backchannel cooperation in recent years.
In March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly met and shook hands with Emirati ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba.
Israel has also participated in multinational aerial exercises with the UAE.
In March 2017,the Israeli and United Arab Emirates Air Forces Flew together in a drill in Greece. The IAF also flew with UAE pilots during the Red Flag exercise in the US in 2016.
In May, Israel announced that it was the first country to use the F-35 in combat after Israel struck at a number of Iranian military assets in Syria.
“We are the first in the world to use the F-35 in operational activity,” IAF Commander Major General Amikam Norkin said.
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 is also known as the Joint Strike Fighter and, in Israel, by its Hebrew name “Adir” (Mighty).
The US-made, multi-role stealth fighter first arrived in Israel in December 2016. The first IAF F-35 squadron, dubbed the “Golden Eagle,” was declared operational in December 2017. It was the first outside of the US to be ready for a mission, preceded only by the US Marine Corps and US Air Force.
The fifth-generation aircraft, is considered one of the world’s most advanced fighter jets.
Israel has acquired a total of 50 F-35s which are to be supplied by December 2024.