Jordan’s royal air force has signed a multibillion-dollar agreement with the US to buy new F-16 fighter jets to replace its older versions.
A signing ceremony was held in Amman between Royal Jordanian Air Force Commander Brig Gen Mohammed Hiasat and the Deputy Chief of the US Mission to Jordan, Rohit Nepal, Petra news agency reported.
“This agreement is part of efforts to boost the defence capabilities of the kingdom and increase the level of combat readiness and joint operations with the US,” the Jordanian air force said.
“It also aims to strengthen the framework of co-operation between the two countries, support joint efforts to combat terrorism and promote stability in the region.”
The US State Department approved the sale of 16 F-16 fighter jets in February 2022, at an estimated cost of $4.21 billion.
Jordan's air force already operates 44 F16 A variants of the multi-role fighter and in 2020 they announced that instead of upgrading the older aircraft they would replace them with 12 newer C Block 70 variants and 4 D Block 70 versions.
The new aircraft will provide upgraded capabilities and 12 aircraft will be delivered in the first phase. There was no word from authorities on the remaining four aircraft in the deal.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-Nato ally,” the US Defence Security Co-operation Agency said at the time.
The US State Department last year approved Jordan's request for 12 F-16 C Block 70 fighter jets, radios, targeting pods and associated munitions components, including guided missile tail kits. The prime contractor for the jets would be Lockheed Martin, the DSCA said.
The F-16 fighter jets will allow Jordan to counter violent extremist organisations while bolstering its border defence, the DSCA said.
“Jordan will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces,” it said. “There will be no adverse impact on defence readiness as a result of this proposed sale.”