In a statement, the United Arab Emirates defence ministry said, the purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France would complement its planned purchase of US F-35 fighter jets, which has slowed down following US concerns of Abu Dhabi’s relationship with China.

On Friday, the UAE ordered 80 Rafales fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation along with 12 Caracal military helicopters from Airbus Helicopters in an arms deal worth $19.2 billion (17 billion euros).

In a statement late on Saturday, Major General Ibrahim Nasser Al Alawi, the commander of the UAE Air Force and Air Defence said, the Rafale fighter planes would replace the UAE’s French-built Mirage 2000 fleet.

“This deal is not considered as an alternative for the forthcoming F-35 deal, it is rather a complementary deal … as we develop our air force capabilities,” said Alawi while adding the UAE had for some time been looking to replace its Mirage fleet. Last month, an official from the Biden Administration had said, Washington intends to move forward with the sale but Abu Dhabi must very clearly understand its obligations.