US Senators Bob Menendez and Senator Jack Reed called the Trump Administration to explain in detail how it will deal with specific national security risks inherent in the Administration’s proposed sale of the F-35 aircraft to the United Arab Emirates.
Menendez is ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Reed is Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“There are numerous questions as to how the national security interests of both the U.S. and Israel will be served, or undermined, by such a sale. We fear that the Trump Administration’s recklessly accelerated timeline will preclude sufficient and comprehensive consideration of these issues by the national security professionals in the Departments of State and Defence, as well as by the Congress.” wrote the Senators in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper. “U.S. national security and the safety of American troops could be seriously compromised by this sale. The F-35 is one of the most advanced aircraft in the world, giving the United States and its allies and partners a tremendous military advantage. This, therefore, creates an immense counterintelligence threat against this aircraft.”
The questions request detailed information on Israel’s security like;
Has the U.S. interagency reviewed and determined what variant of the aircraft would be best to sell, in terms of protecting the aircraft’s technology and in terms of protecting Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME)?
Has a determination been made that the sale of this aircraft to the UAE will not jeopardize Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge?
Will any aircraft sold to the UAE be reduced in capabilities compared to comparable U.S. aircraft?
— If so, how much less capable will these aircraft be compared to Israeli and U.S. F-35 aircraft and other aircraft?
— Exactly which systems, software, and components will be reduced in terms of operational capability in comparison with Israeli and U.S. aircraft, and to what degree and with what effect? Please provide a detailed written and graphic comparison.
What measures will be taken to counteract any reduction in Israel’s QME?
Will the U.S. shift from a Qualitative Military Edge measurement to a Quantitative one, selling or providing more aircraft and munitions meant to overwhelm the heightened military threat to Israel?
If so, how will these additional arms to Israel be financed? Will the U.S. need to increase Foreign Military Finance levels in order to offset this sale to the UAE?
Will the United States require any commitments from the UAE that it will not employ such aircraft to the detriment of Israel’s security interests or the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States, as determined by Israel and the U.S. respectively?