Jordan Signs for New-generation F-16 Fighters

 - January 25, 2023, 5:28 AM
An RJAF F-16BM leads an F-16AM, U.S. Air Force F-16C and U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 during a joint exercise. The F-16AM/BM has a brake chute mounted in a fairing at the base of the fin. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Jordan’s Royal Air Force Command has signed an amendment to a letter of offer and acceptance to acquire 12 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72s. The deal was signed in Amman by the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) commander, Brigadier General Pilot Muhammad Fathi Hiyasat, and deputy ambassador Rohit Nepal on behalf of the U.S. government, in the presence of Jordan’s deputy joint chief of staff, Brigadier General Abdullah Al Shudaifat.

The amendment supersedes an earlier agreement to buy eight F-16s, which was announced in June 2022. The deal comes within the “framework of strengthening the defense capabilities and military deterrence of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, increasing the level of combat readiness and joint operations with the friendly American side,” said an RJAF statement.

The initial acquisition covers 12 aircraft to be delivered in a “first phase”, with further purchases of F-16s possible. No specific details of the breakdown between F-16C single-seaters and F-16D two-seaters in the first tranche was provided.

The original U.S. State Department determination regarding the sale—issued on February 3 last year—covered the supply of 12 F-16Cs and four F-16Ds in the Block 72 configuration with Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229EEP engines and Northrop Grumman APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radars. Also included in the approval were five spare engines, five spare radars, and a similar number of spare M61A1 Vulcan 20-mm rotary cannons. Other items included six Lockheed Martin AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pods, a comprehensive defensive systems suite, and an armament package comprising various laser- and GPS-guided munitions.

With its active electronically-scanned antenna radar, infrared search and track, revised cockpit with a large center pedestal display, modern avionics and a 12,000-hour airframe, the F-16 Block 70/72 represents a major improvement in combat capability compared with the RJAF’s existing F-16 fleet. Three squadrons (Nos 1, 2, and 6) fly the F-16AM/BM from As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti air base at Al Azraq. These aircraft—comprising the survivors of 31 F-16AMs and 15 F-16BMs delivered between 2008 and 2017—are former Belgian and Dutch aircraft that had undergone the Mid-Life Update program. Preceding them had been 33 ex-USAF F-16A/Bs in Air Defense Fighter configuration delivered between 1997 and 2003. A number were sold to Pakistan and none of the older aircraft remain in RJAF service.