Israeli Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz on Monday revealed he had requested the United States supply his country with a third squadron of F-35 stealth combat aircraft following the announcement of the arms deal signed between the US and the United Arab Emirates, which includes the sale of the advanced jets to the Gulf nation. Gantz, who in October flew to Washington for an emergency meeting with then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper after the UAE deal was finalized, said on Monday, “Without a doubt, we need to expand the F-35 array. Right now, we have two squadrons. I reckon we will expand that. That is what I requested of the Americans. I would buy another F-35 squadron.” In August, following the announcement of the Israeli-UAE normalization agreement, it was revealed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had promised, without consulting or notifying any defense or military personnel, to break from long-standing Israeli policy and not oppose the US sale of the advanced jets to the Emiratis, in exchange for their official recognition of Israel. Netanyahu denied the charges, which were eventually validated by the later turn of events. Netanyahu’s opponents harshly criticized the prime minister, accusing him of harming Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East.
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