The White House has stated that F-35s will not be up for sale during the Camp David summit starting Thursday with the Gulf Arab states.
However, Ben Rhodes, deputy National Security Advisor, vigorously denied that the summit centered around the F-35 in the first place, in an effort to dampen speculation that the announcement regarding the aircraft prompted King Salman of Saudi Arabia to cancel his visit, DOD Buzz reports.
Joining Rhodes was Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who denied any connection between the Obama administration’s decision and added that Salman’s absence was not an attempt to snub the United States.
“This is not related in any way, shape or form to any disagreement between the two countries,” al-Jubeir said.
Colin Kahl, Vice President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor, maintained that not selling the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program to interested Gulf states was not an affront, since they have otherwise been given access to all sorts of other weaponry. Kahl also noted that the Obama administration forwarded the agreement which will soon provide the Saudis with the F-15 aircraft.
Back in 2013 at the Dubai Airshow, U.S. officials said that the plan was to allow sale to eager Gulf buyers approximately 5 years after Israel receives its first F-35 in 2016. Israel has placed an order for a total of 19 F-35s. As Reuters reports, U.S. policy guidance mandates for Israel to keep a competitive edge in military assets. That same 5-year policy was respected for both the F-15 and F-16.
Despite strong interest from the Gulf states, Nick Harvey, the UK’s former armed forces minister, is convinced the whole F-35 program is a colossal failure.
To the protests of the UK’s Ministry of Defense, Harvey maintained that the F-35 will not be combat-ready for Britain by the 2018 deadline, adding that there’s “not a cat in hell’s chance.”
Britain is one of the 8 states set to receive F-35s for agreeing to fund the project, in addition to Canada, Norway, Denmark, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
This report, by Jonah Bennett, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.