More Belgian F-16s become Royal Jordanian Falcons
RJAF 155 (FA-111) taking off from Kleine-Brogel Air Base on 19 July 2011 for the first leg of its ferry flight to Al Azraq Air Base, which brought the aircraft to Aviano, Italy.
In February 2007, the Belgian Air Force signed a contract with the Royal Jordanian Air Force for the sale of 16 Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM aircraft that had become redundant as a consequence of the Strategic Defence Plan 2000-2015. The deal included MLU conversion training for 10 pilots and 68 technicians, as well as the sale of mission debriefing equipment and an undisclosed number of Raytheon AGM-65G Maverick Air-to-Ground Missiles. Four aircraft left Kleine-Brogel Air Base on 10 September 2008 (two F-16AMs and two F-16BMs) and were followed by another four on 27 November 2008 (two F-16AMs and two F-16BMs). The remaining 8 F-16AMs were delivered on 19 March 2009.
Even before the delivery of the first batch of 16 aircraft was completed, a similar contract for training of Jordanian personnel and for the transfer of another 9 aircraft was signed in early 2009. These additional aircraft, five F-16AMs and four F-16BMs, had become redundant too since Mr. Pieter De Crem, Belgian Minister of Defence, had moved forward the cutback from 72 to 60 F-16s as imposed by the Strategic Defence Plan 2000-2015 to 2010.
As soon as the decision was made to sell the aircraft, they were prepared for handing over to the Royal Jordanian Air Force by personnel of the 2nd Tactical Wing at Florennes Air Base. Delivery was initially planned for early 2010, but a number of contractual and practical issues put it off to mid-2011. Pending the acceptance flights by Royal Jordanian Air Force pilots, the aircraft were kept in warm storage at Florennes Air Base, performing one hour flights once a month.
When the acceptance flights eventually were planned for July 2011, they could not take place at Florennes Air Base because of maintenance work on the main runway and because Royal Jordanian Air Force pilots are not qualified to fly from the smaller parallel runway. Hence, the F-16s were transferred from 11 July onwards to Kleine-Brogel Air Base, where personnel of both the 10th and 2nd Tactical Wing prepared the aircraft for the acceptance and ferry flights. A first batch of five aircraft (three F-16AMs and two F-16BMs) left Kleine-Brogel Air Base on 13 July 2011. They flew in three hops via Aviano in Italy and Souda in Greece to Al Azraq Air Base in Jordan. The first pair of the second batch (one F-16AM and one F-16BM) departed Kleine-Brogel on 19 July, while the final pair (two F-16AM) took off in the afternoon of 20 July. The ferry pilots originated from all three Royal Jordanian Air Force squadrons that are earmarked to be equipped with F-16s, Nos. 1, 2 and 6 Squadrons.
The first contract for the sale of 16 aircraft, some ground equipment and a number of AGM-65 missiles as well as for the conversion training of pilots and technicians was good for 70 million euro, while the second contract yielded 32 million euro. The proceeds of sales of surplus military equipment in the framework of the Strategic Defence Plan 2000-2015 may be used for reinvestments in Defence on top of the normal defence budget.
The Royal Jordanian Air Force took delivery of a total of 64 F-16 aircraft from three different operators under the programmes Peace Falcon I to V. They are destined to equip Nos. 1, 2 and 6 Squadrons. Aircraft with serial numbers in the 100 series are former Belgian (Peace Falcon III and V) and Dutch (Peace Falcon IV) aircraft and will eventually form No. 1 Squadron. All 31 aircraft are of MLU-M3 standard. The 16 former USAF and US Air National Guard F-16 Air Defence Fighters acquired under Peace Falcon I received serials in the 200 series and will eventually equip No. 2 Squadron. They underwent among others structural modifications in the USA before delivery giving them a total service life of 8,000 flying hours. The serials of the 17 US ADF aircraft of Peace Falcon II start with 6 and are earmarked to constitute the fleet of No. 6 Squadron after they will have received Falcon Up, Falcon Star and MLU-M3 upgrades by Turkish Aerospace Industries in Ankara. The structural reinforcements going with these programmes extend the service life of the aircraft from 4,000 to 8,000 flying hours, allowing them to continue flying for another two decades. At present, all RJAF F-16s are flying with Nos. 1 and 2 Squadrons. No. 6 Squadron will receive its upgraded aircraft as soon as sufficient pilots and technicians will have been trained.
RJAF 156 (FA-115), 154 (FA-108), 157 (FA-120), 160 (FB-09) and 161 (FB-10) on the Alpha Line at Kleine-Brogel Air Base on 13 July 2011.
* Serial number 151 was skipped as it could be confused with serial number 101 in Arabic numerals (١٥١).
RJAF 157 (FA-120), 154 (FA-108) and 156 (FA-115), the three single seat F-16AM aircraft that left Kleine-Brogel Air Base on 13 July 2011 for the first leg of their ferry flight to Al Azraq Air Base.
RJAF 157 (FA-120), 156 (FA-115), 154 (FA-108), 159 (FB-05), 153 (FA-100), 160 (FB-09) and 161 (FB-10) on the Alpha Line at Kleine-Brogel Air Base on 13 July 2011. Five aircraft are being started up for their ferry flight. 153 and 161 acted as spare aircraft.
RJAF 159 (FB-05), 156 (FA-115), 154 (FA-108), 160 (FB-09) and 157 (FA-120) starting up on the Alpha Line of Kleine-Brogel Air Base for their ferry flight to Jordan via Italy and Greece on 13 July 2011.
RJAF Lockheed Martin F-16AM 157 (FA-120) and 154 (FA-108) revving up their engines on Kleine-Brogel’s runway 23 on 13 July 2011 in order to take off for their ferry flight to Al Azraq Air Base via Aviano in Italy and Souda in Greece.
RJAF 157 (FA-120) taking off from Kleine-Brogel Air Base on 13 July 2011 for the first leg of the ferry flight to Al Azraq Air Base, which brought the aircraft to Aviano, Italy.
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RJAF 155 (FA-111), 161 (FB-10) and 158 (FA-125) on the Alpha Line at Kleine-Brogel Air Base on 19 July 2011. 161 and 155 left that day for Aviano Air Base, Italy, the first leg of their ferry flight to Al Azraq Air Base in Jordan.
RJAF 158 (FA-125) and 153 (FA-100), the final pair of Belgian Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcons on the Alpha Line at Kleine-Brogel Air Base on 20 July 2011, being prepared for delivery to the Royal Jordanian Air Force.
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Badges of Nos. 1,2 and 6 Squadrons, Royal Jordanian Air Force
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"And from now on, all Royal Jordanian Air Force pilots of Nos. 1, 2 and 6 Squadrons know that the best F-16 squadron in the world is... No. 349 Squadron."
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Last updated 28/12/11 13:44 Daniel Brackx