Lockheed Martin is still barred from selling or even marketing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the Persian Gulf region, but perhaps not for long.

Asked about the conspicuous absence of F-35 promotional materials at the Dubai air show, Lockheed vice-president of business development George Standridge predicted that situation would not last forever.

"It's coming. It's coming," Standridge said, referring to the stealth fighter that is currently in development and production.


 © Lockheed Martin

Export control officials in Washington DC must clear defence contractors to share information about US-owned weapons technologies. So far, the F-35 has not been cleared for export to Middle East countries outside Israel and Turkey, and that is despite the stated interest of the UAE air force and one of Lockheed's marketing briefings from 2007.

It is, however, possible that the F-35's export status in the Middle East is under review by export control officials. Asked if there was a process underway to clear the F-35 for export in the UAE, Standridge replied: "I think the appropriate communications are occurring," but he declined to elaborate.

The UAE is among several air forces in the Middle East that Lockheed included on a 2007 marketing slide that identified possible future F-35 buyers. On the same slide is named Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and Kuwait.

Meanwhile, Maj Gen Ibrahim Naser al-Alawi, deputy chief of the UAE air force, showed a picture of the F-35 and the Lockheed F-22 during a presentation about the country's air combat requirements in a 2009 presentation.

On 12 November, al-Alawi also revealed that the UAE planned to acquire a "next generation fighter" in the 2018-2035 timeframe.

Source: Flight Daily News