Jordan Buys AESA-equipped F-16 Fighters

 - June 19, 2022, 4:34 AM
A company graphic depicts an F-16D Block 70 two-seater in typical multirole fighter configuration, including the Sniper targeting pod. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Jordan has signed the letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) covering the procurement of eight Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 aircraft. The LOA agreement was signed by the country’s armed forces chief, major general Yousef Al-Hnaity, and brigadier general Mohammad Hiyasat, commander of the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF).

The U.S. State Department approved a $4.21 billion sale of 12 F-16C and 4 F-16D fighters to Jordan in early February. The reduction in the number now being purchased may be due to budgetary considerations. The aircraft will be built at Lockheed Martin’s new F-16 plant at Greenville, South Carolina.

“This F-16 acquisition reflects over 70 years of U.S. cooperation and decades of partnership with Lockheed Martin,” said Aimee Burnett, vice president, Integrated Fighter Group Business Development. “Our history partnering with Jordan strengthens regional security and helps protect citizens through 21st Century Security technologies that support critical missions today and into the future.”

No details have been given concerning the breakdown of F-16C single- and F-16D two-seaters and, although the Block 70 is the variant powered by the General Electric F110-GE-129D rather than the alternative Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229EEP in the Block 72, the powerplant choice is not yet confirmed.

The Block 70/72, and similar F-16V upgrade package, has revitalized the F-16 through the integration of state-of-the-art systems. At the heart of the revamp is the Northrop Grumman APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar with an active electronically scanned array. In the February approval document Jordan was cleared to receive a comprehensive equipment package, including the Lockheed Martin AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pod. Approved weaponry included a range of precision-guided bomb kits such as EGBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II and GBU-54 Laser JDAM.

The RJAF has operated the F-16 since 1997, when the first of an eventual 33 former U.S. Air Force F-16A/B ADFs (Air Defense Fighters) was delivered. A number of the later arrivals were upgraded in the late 2000s by Turkish Aerospace as part of the Mid-Life Update (MLU) program, while most of the earlier F-16 ADFs were passed on to Pakistan. Between 2009 and 2017 Jordan's fleet was swelled by 46 F-16AM/BM MLU aircraft, acquired in four batches from the Belgian and Dutch air forces. They serve with Nos 1, 2 and 6 Squadrons at Al Azraq.

F-16BM Jordan
This F-16BM from the RJAF’s No. 1 Squadron formerly flew with the Belgian air force. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)