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(Update 3 weeks ago)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department is moving forward with the sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and MQ-9 drones to the United Arab Emirates, a decision which will now face a legal challenge from a nonprofit seeking to halt the weapons agreement.

At stake is an arms package approved in the waning days of the Trump administration, which includes 50 F-35s,18 MQ–9B Reapers, as well as thousands of munitions and hundreds of missiles. The total sale comes with an estimated $23 billion price tag.

In December, the New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs, or NYCFPA, filled a legal claimthat the Trump administration failed to provide a reasonable explanation for its decision to sell F-35 fighter jets and other weapons to the UAE, which would place it in breach of the Administrative Procedure Act.

In January, the Biden administration announced a blanket review of all recent arms sales cleared by the Trump administration. While it notably froze a pair of weapons deals for Saudi Arabia, the administration had never put in place a hard freeze on the UAE equipment.

A State Department spokesman said in a statement that “the Administration intends to move forward with these proposed defense sales to the UAE, even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials to ensure we have developed mutual understandings with respect to Emirati obligations before, during, and after delivery.” 

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