Two of Jordan’s first female Black Hawk helicopter pilots were on hand to see US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel deliver a batch of Black Hawk helicopters to the Kingdom over the weekend.
They are members of a group of six female Jordanian pilots completing or preparing for training in the US.
On January 28 Votel traveled to Jordan from Afghanistan where he attended a helicopter handover ceremony and watched a mock hostage rescue, according to Reuters. “The United States remains committed to supporting the Jordanian air force efforts to protect Jordan’s borders, deter counter acts of terror and contribute to defeat[ing] ISIS,” said Henry Wooster, Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Jordan, at an air base 35 km. northeast of the capital near the town of Zarqa.
The two delivered Black Hawks are to help Jordan as part of a “Quick Reaction Force,” and are the last of a deal worth $200 million that included 12 of the UH-60 helicopters. It is part of a $470 million appropriation in 2017 by the US Congress to support the Jordanian Armed Forces, a portion of which is for parts, equipment and training for the Black Hawks. A US embassy statement said: “Today’s ceremony marks the beginning of a new JAF capability in the form of a state-of-the-art UH-60 Black Hawk fleet.”
In January 2017 the US embassy announced that Cadet Aya Al-Sourany will be the second of six Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot candidates to be trained in the US to fly the helicopters. According to a US army article posted online in February 2017, Al-Sourany joined 2nd Lt. Lara Al-Hawawsheh who was studying in Colorado. According to the article, five percent of JAF pilots are women.
Kevin Baron, executive editor of Defense One, posted photos Sunday of the two Jordanian pilots on the tarmac in Jordan, having completed their training. He said that two more female pilots were training at Fort Rutger, Alabama. Like Jordan, Israel has worked in recent years to attract more women to its rigorous pilot courses.