The United Arab Emirates (UAE) plans to upgrade its Air Force and purchase new aircraft. AIN online reported that the Gulf state will buy at least 10 Su-35 from Russia.
Alongside the Russian fighters, the UAE is considering American F-35s as well. According to Defense News, US Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Stephen Wilson confirmed that the DoD has begun talks with the UAE about a potential sale of F-35 joint strike fighters.
"Specifically with the F-35, you look at all of our partner nations now and as we look at their requirements. Here in the Gulf, they share many of the same adversaries and many of the same challenges, so discussions are ongoing now with the administration on partner nations that may require them," Wilson said.
In addition to the UAE, other Gulf states eye the F-35, including Saudi Arabia, which has stated it in the past. If the United States approves the sale of the 5th-gen aircraft to one of them, it will be hard for it to refuse the others.
For Israel, this potential deal poses a threat to its qualitative military edge (QME) in the region, which the US has agreed to preserve. The IAF plans to upgrade its F-35 (Adir) fleet with local systems which will provide unique capabilities. However, this might not be enough to maintain a qualitative advantage when it comes to such an advanced aircraft as the F-35.