By Ali Younes
In a rare display of the strategic alliance between Israel and Jordan, several Royal Jordanian F-16s were escorted and supplied with fuel mid air by Israeli air force fuel tankers on their way to military exercise in the United States last week.
American military website Foxtrotalpha reported last week that Israeli air force fuel tanker KC-707 supplied the Jordanian F-16s alongside Israeli F15s during the mid Atlantic trip to the Nellis US Air Force Base in Las Vegas area, Nevada, where Israel and Jordan will participate in the exercise.
While it is not unusual for Israel and Jordan to work together on issues of water resources and commercial cooperation given that both countries have signed a formal peace treaty in 1994, but it is rare to see Jordan and Israel work together militarily and train together in the US in such public manner.
That said, however, Jordan and Israel have long and secret intelligence and security ties since the 1960s especially against Palestinian militant resistance groups that are committed to fight the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories but are considered as common enemies of both countries.
The Israeli Mossad maintains a regional intelligence base in Amman Jordan.
The recent Jordanian participation in the air war against the “Islamic State” or ISIS in Iraq and Syria as well as its participation in the war in Yemen has put a strain on its aging and secondhand F16s. This comes as Reuters reported last month that Israel had donated its retired Cobras to Jordan in order to replenish the Jordanian two squadrons of 25 Cobras. Sources in the Pentagon told the Arab Daily News that the United States might also encourage Israel to donate it’s soon to retire F16s to Jordan to help it defend itself against potential Arab enemies or terrorist threats in the region.
The United States is also eager to replenish Jordanian supplies of bombs and missiles that were used up recently against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The US is also trying to shore up the Jordanian border defenses against terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq especially after ISIS has inched closer to the Jordanian Iraqi borders after it took Ramadi in the past few weeks. The US is also supplying Jordan with electronic gear to monitor its borders with Iraq.
The Jordanian F16s were bought used from several European countries but upgraded to Mid Life Update program by the US Air Force, but still lack targeting pods and precision guided munitions.
Meanwhile, the Reuters report stated that the Israeli government donated 16 of its old Bell AH 1 Cobra Helicopters to enable Jordan to defend its borders against a potential Islamic State (ISIS) attacks.
Reuters which first reported the news last month also added that the United States agreed to the transfer of the Israeli Cobras and provided mechanical overhaul for the batch.
Israel has scrapped its squadron of the old Cobras and will rely on the much more advanced attack Apache Helicopters
The Israeli donation of Cobras to Jordan which is worth around $ 170 million dollars comes after the United States blocked the sale of the same Helicopters to Nigeria. Nigeria had sought to purchase the old Israeli Cobras soon after Israel took them out of service in 2013.
The old Israeli Cobras which Jordan will incorporate into its own air force were in service for 30 years and were extensively used against Syria in 1982 and have bombed several Syrian missile sites. They were also used against Hezbollah for many years.
The AH1 Cobras were first produced in 1967 and were the main work horse of the US air force in Vietnam. The US has phased out its Cobras out of the service and replaced it with the much more powerful Apache Helicopters.
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