ORDAN TIMES 12-10-97


Jordan's new F-16 jet fighters to be delivered before new year

By Tareq Ayyoub

AMMAN - The first batch of U.S.-made F-16 jet fighters will arrive in Jordan this month as part of the American military assistance to the Kingdom, a senior army official said Tuesday.

The official, who asked not to be identified, emphasized that six planes will arrive in the second half of this month while another ten will reach the Kingdom by the end of next January.

"The planes are part of the agreement His Majesty King Hussein concluded during his visit to the United States," the official told the Jordan Times.

He said that Jordanian pilots trained abroad to operate these planes will arrive to the Kingdom "before the first F-16 aircraft batch touches Jordanian soil."

The official added that the pilots who will operate the second F-16 batch "will be trained in the Kingdom by Jordanian pilots."

Asked if Jordan will receive additional U.S. planes, the official declined to comment but emphasized that "Jordan always seeks to renovate its air force."

Last December, Jordan received $100 million worth of military equipment, which included helicopters, tanks and air-sea rescue vessels, as part of a $300 million U.S. military aid package pledged by the U.S. administration.

Earlier this year, President Bill Clinton named Jordan a "non-NATO ally" and by that announcement the Kingdom became eligible for more U.S. military assistance.

On June 12, Jordanian and U.S. troops held joint military exercises, code named "Infinite Moonlight 97," as part of the two sides' military cooperation.