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The controversial sale of US weapons to the UAE within the framework of the peace agreement with Israel included some unmanned air verhicles. Up to 18 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9B UAVs) were included in the $23.4 billion sale of aircraft and weapons to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) approved by the US Department of State. The sale includes also 50 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters, and air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions, as US secretary of state Mike Pompeo declared. 

Typically, these armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance UAVs are restricted to the USA’s closest allies due to a Missile Technology Control Regime policy of a “strong presumption of denial”. The arms-control agreement classifies the UAV in the same category as cruise missiles capable of delivering a weapon of mass destruction.

However, the Trump administration updated the US policy in July, allowing for case-by-case approvals to sell UAVs with maximum flight speeds less than 432kt (800km/h). Using that new policy, the USA approved Taiwan’s pending acquisition of four MQ-9Bs on 3 November, according to

Included with the MQ-9B proposal are related weapons such as 515 Lockheed AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, Leonardo Seaspray 7500 maritime radars and Sage 750 electronic support measures systems.

Presumably intended to spot and track small Iranian diesel-electric submarines, the MQ-9Bs would come with anti-submarine warfare mission kits, receivers and acoustic processors, as well as SSQ-36B thermometric sonobuoys, SSQ-53G passive sonobuoys and SSQ-62F active sonobuoys.