The United Arab Emirates signed off on a deal to purchase up to 50 F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft and 18 MQ-9 Reaper drones from the United States.
According to Reuters, which broke the news, the agreement was one of the final acts of the Trump administration, occurring just an hour before President Joe Biden was inaugurated.
A source with knowledge of the situation said the U.S. and UAE officials signed a letter of agreement, which solidifies the terms of a foreign military sale between two nations. The departments of State and Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The agreement delineates the cost of the aircraft, technical specifications and the schedule for F-35 deliveries to the UAE, people familiar with the deal told Reuters. Those sources could not confirm when the first F-35 is due to be delivered to Abu Dhabi but stated that an initial proposal stipulated 2027 as one possible date.
The UAE deal was previously estimated at a $23.37 billion value, including 50 F-35A fighters worth $10.4 billion, 18 MQ-9B drones worth $2.97 billion, and $10 billion worth of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.
Those dollar totals are expected to shift around during further negotiations with F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin and MQ-9 maker General Atomics.
It’s unclear whether the incoming administration will seek to undo the deal. Biden’s pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told reporters in late October that the sale is “something we would look at very, very carefully,” due to U.S. obligations to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge.