Chinese J-20 emerges as a hot contender to replace refused UAE F-35

After the U.S. denied the United Arab Emirates access to the F-35 Lightning II, a fifth-generation fighter, the UAE may now be turning to China for its security needs. The latest aircraft that has piqued the UAE’s interest is China’s fifth-generation stealth fighter – the J-20.

Created by Chengdu Aerospace Corporation for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force [PLAAF], the Chengdu J-20 is a stealth fighter capable of operating in all weather conditions. As time goes by, the likelihood of the UAE incorporating this aircraft into their military becomes greater. In 2020, the UAE’s plan to buy the F-35 jet complicated its budding relationship with Israel.

Israel perceived this as a threat to their longstanding security rule – to always maintain the most powerful military in the region. This rule generally functions by either procuring top-notch military equipment from the U.S. or preventing neighboring countries from doing the same.

A National Interest article suggests that the UAE might now turn to other sources like China for their military supplies due to this conflict. The UAE and China seem to be growing closer, and this may extend to military cooperation. The UAE’s interest in Chinese aircraft, such as the J-20, could affect regional military dynamics and how the US cooperates with Gulf countries.

There are clear indications of increased military connections between the UAE and China. This is evidenced by the recent high-profile meeting on April 23 between Major General Saleh Mohammed bin Majren Al Ameri, head of joint UAE operations, and Lt General Chang Dingqiu, chief of the PLAAF, at the Chinese Ministry of Defense.

The possibility of the UAE opting for the J-20 is becoming more plausible given that they’ve already received the Chinese Falcon L-15 advanced trainer aircraft. This is being recognized as China securing a foothold in the Middle Eastern defense market.

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