Saudi refuses to link purchase of F-35 fighter jets with Israel peace deal

A file picture shows an F-35 fighter plane (AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  November 3, 2020

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has refused to make any political concessions including the signing of a formal normalisation agreement with Israel in return for the kingdom obtaining F-35 fighter jets from the US, informed sources have said.

The sources explained that Bin Salman stressed that if Saudi Arabia decided to submit an official request to purchase F-35 fighter jets, it would do so with full transparency and without striking deals behind closed doors.

He added that the kingdom is ready to acquire the American fighters in the same way it had acquired the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and the multi-role strike fighters, Boeing F-15S in the 1980s.

The sale of the AWACS to Saudi Arabia sparked widespread controversy at the time amid strong objection from prominent members of the US Senate and the Zionist lobby.

Bin Salman has recently said that Saudi Arabia is carefully studying the need to obtain more advanced fighter jets, explaining that he does not oppose the purchase of F-35.

The Saudi crown prince indicated that he had informed US President Donald Trump of his intention to acquire F-35 fighters which was welcomed by Trump.