Lockheed Martin has given the UAE a first taste of the F-35 marketing blitz as state officials start planning for acquiring a next generation fighter in several years.

Information about the company's latest fighter product was tucked into the end of the company's press briefing on 14 November at the Dubai air show.

Ana Wugofski, Lockheed's vice president of international business development, highlighted the F-35's capabilities and status. A related briefing slide showed an image of all three F-35 variants, along with the image of another aircraft resembling the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter listed as a "current and future threat".

The brief cameo at the Lockheed press conference broke Lockheed's self-imposed silence about the F-35 at the air show.

Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF pair

 © Lockheed Martin

The F-35 has not been cleared for export in the Middle East beyond Turkey and Israel.

The lack of export approval restrains contractors from providing details about the programme with customers. Although the F-35 was mentioned in Wugofski's press conference, the data provided was not specific to the UAE and was general in nature.

Moreover, Lockheed's exhibit booth still contains no models, pictures or information about the F-35, a sharp contrast with the fighter's ubiquitous presence at industry events globally.

But Lockheed is gradually beginning to make the F-35's presence felt in the UAE and around the region. No export licenses have yet been approved, but that situation may soon change. "I believe the appropriate communications are occurring," said George Standridge, Lockheed's vice president of business development.

As for the F-35's future in the region, Standridge's opinion was clear. "It's coming. It's coming," he said.

Source: Flight Daily News