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UAE and Israel agree to jointly build anti-submarine warfare vessels

Announced on the last day of the Dubai Airshow, the deal between the two countries will create the vessels for both military and commercial uses
Israeli military equipment displayed at the 2021 Dubai Airshow (AFP)

Emirati and Israeli state-owned weapon makers signed an agreement in Dubai on Thursday to design unmanned vessels capable of anti-submarine warfare. 

The UAE defence conglomerate EDGE and the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced the partnership on the last day of the biennial Dubai Airshow. 

In a joint statement, the firms said they would design the "170 M" advanced unmanned service vessels used for military and commercial purposes. 

EDGE chief executive Faisal al-Bannai said in the statement: "These developments will open many doors for us in local and global markets, military and commercial alike."

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The submarines would be used for intelligence, surveillance, mine detection and sweeping, and as a platform to deploy certain types of aircraft. 

Commercially, the sub could be customised for oil and gas exploration, among other capabilities.

However, the statement did not say how much capital had been committed to the project or when it would enter production.

The deal comes a year after Israel and the UAE established diplomatic ties. Included in the normalisation agreement signed during the Trump administration was the deal for the US to sell F-35 warplanes to Abu Dhabi. 

However, since US President Joe Biden came into office, his administration has put the sale of the F-35 warplanes on hold due to reported criticism over Emirati and Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen.  

Currently, only Israel flies F-35 planes in the region, which was granted by the US. 

Last week, the UAE and Bahrain held their first joint naval exercise with Israel. The five-day activities alongside the US in the Red Sea, which began on Wednesday, include at-sea training aboard the transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27). The naval manoeuvres focused on visit, board, search and seizure tactics. 

This was the first publicly announced military cooperation between the UAE and Bahrain with Israel since they established diplomatic relations last September. 

The deal broke years of consensus among Arab states that any official recognition of Israel must be based on the end of the occupation of Palestinian territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state.