A Boeing 707 aerially refuels three F-15 Eagles.
(photo credit: YONATAN ZALK / IAF)
Israeli air force fuel tankers escorted Jordanian fighter jets across the Atlantic Ocean earlier this week to take part in exercises in the western United States, according to an American web site devoted to military aviation news.
The site, Foxtrot Alpha, reported that its sources noticed a group of five Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16 flying alongside Israel Air Force KC-707 fuel tankers heading west toward Lajes Field, a common transit point in the mid-Atlantic Ocean for military aircraft.
The fleet of aircraft were heading to Nellis Air Force base in Nevada, where they were scheduled to take part in Red Flag. The US Air Force considers Red Flag the "premier air-to-air combat training exercise [that]...often includes both US and allied nations' combat air forces."
The rare sight of Israeli and Jordanian aircraft flying in tandem appears to indicate a new, stepped-up level of military and defense cooperation between Jerusalem and Amman.
Last month, Reuters quoted a US official as saying that Israel gave retired US-supplied Cobra combat helicopters to Jordan to help the Hashemite kingdom fend off insurgent threats on the Syrian and Iraqi borders.
The handover, initiated last year, was approved by Washington, which provided mechanical overhauls for the aircraft before they were incorporated free of charge in Jordan's existing Cobra fleet, the official said.
"These choppers are for border security," the official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, told Reuters.
Asked how many Cobras were transferred, the official said: "Around 16, though some may have been used by the Jordanians for spare parts" rather than kept intact.
According to Foxtrot Alpha
, Jordan's participation in the drill is significant in light of its continued aerial campaign against Islamic State.
The Hashemite kingdom is said to be eager to upgrade its fleet of second-hand F-16s, which lack precision guided munitions.Foxtrot Alpha
speculates that Jordan may absorb older Israeli F-16s that the IAF plans to retire in the months to come.
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