Royal Jordanian Air Force's F-16s demonstrate strength of US partnership


US-made F-16s are the backbone of the Royal Jordanian Air Force's combat aviation capabilities and a symbol of why the United States is the partner of choice in the region.

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An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Royal Jordanian Air Force takes to the skies over an air base in northern Jordan May 29, 2014, during Exercise Eager Lion. [US Air Force]
An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Royal Jordanian Air Force takes to the skies over an air base in northern Jordan May 29, 2014, during Exercise Eager Lion. [US Air Force]

One of the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF)'s greatest strengths is its US-made F-16 Fighting Falcons, which first entered service more than two decades ago.

The F-16 is at the core of the RJAF's combat aviation capabilities. Having received its first secondhand aircraft from the United States in 1997, the RJAF has more than 40 F-16s performing multiple roles.

The RJAF overall has a strength of approximately 14,000 active personnel at six major air bases with 19 air squadrons.

Three squadrons fly the F-16AM/BM from Muwaffaq Salti Air Base at Azraq, Aviation International News reported in January 2023.

Jordan's Air Force Command that month firmed up plans to purchase 12 F-16 Block 70/72s, the latest version of the aircraft.

The agreement came within the framework of strengthening the defense capabilities and military deterrence of Jordan and increasing the level of combat readiness and joint operations with the United States, the Jordanian Ministry of Defense said in a statement at the time.

It also aimed to strengthen joint cooperation between the two countries and support joint efforts in combating terrorism and enhancing stability in the region, it said.

Initially developed in the 1970s, the F-16 has evolved to meet the changing demands of aerial combat.

It was designed as a lightweight, multirole fighter with a focus on air superiority and as an alternative to increasingly heavy and cumbersome fighter aircraft. Its design philosophy emphasized maneuverability, adaptability and cost-effectiveness.

The F-16A entered service with the US Air Force in 1978. Since then, it has undergone numerous upgrades and variants, enabling it to take on more varied roles ranging from ground attack, photo reconnaissance and hunting of surface-to-air missiles, among others.

More than 3,100 F-16s are operating in 25 countries, including more than 800 with the US Air Force. As of 2022, more than 4,550 F-16s had been produced for both the United States and its allies.

Advanced F-16s

The F-16 Block 70/72 represents a significant advance in fighter capabilities for Jordan and is at the technological forefront of 4.5-generation aircraft. The main difference between the Block 70 and the Block 72 is the engine.

The aircraft is equipped with the advanced APG-83 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which has a longer range, higher ability to detect smaller targets and better resistance to jamming than passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar does.

The F-16 Block 70/72 also has hardware and software commonality with the F-22 and F-35.

The radar "delivers greater situational awareness, flexibility and quicker all-weather targeting and provides pilots with unprecedented target area detail and digital map displays that can be tailored with slew and zoom features," according to the F-16's manufacturer.

The Block 70/72 also features advanced avionics, including a new, high resolution Center Pedestal Display that provides critical tactical imagery to pilots.

It is equipped with the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, which was designed to prevent deadly crashes -- namely, incidents of what is known as controlled flight into terrain (CFIT).

The Block 70/72 aircraft have an extended structural life of 12,000 hours -- or at least 40 years of service life -- more than 50% beyond that of previous production F-16 aircraft.

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