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US plans sale of 50 AIM-120C missiles to Jordan

November 24, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) plans to sell Jordan 50 U.S.-made AMRAAM anti-aircraft missiles in a deal valued up to $39 million. The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress last Friday about the proposed sale, giving lawmakers 30 days to block the agreement.

RJAF F-16A ADF, #229, over desert terrain. [RJAF photo]

The proposed sale includes the following:
  • 50 AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles
  • 51 LAU-129 launchers;
  • captive air training missiles;
  • flight test instrumentation;
  • software updates to support AMRAAM operational and training devices;
  • missile containers;
  • aircraft modification and integration;
  • spare and repair parts;
  • support and test equipment;
  • publications and technical documentation;
  • maintenance and pilot training;
  • contractor support;
  • other related elements of logistical and program support.
The LAU-129 is a launcher which can be carried by ADF modified F-16A/B , and all blocks of C/D aircraft. It can hold both the AIM-9 missile, and the AIM-120 missile.

Lockheed Martin recently received a contract to support upgrades to 17 F-16 A/Bs of the Royal Jordanian Air Force. The main upgrade being the F-16 A/B Mid-Life Update (MLU) but the pacjkage also includes the Falcon UP and Falcon STAR structural upgrades. The 17 aircraft to be modified are USAF block 15 F-16A/Bs with the Air Defense Fighter (ADF) modification, provided to Jordan under the Peace Falcon II Foreign Military Sales program.

"The proposed sale will enhance the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a key regional partner who has proven to be a vital force for political stability and peace in the Middle East," the DSCA said in a statement. "Jordan needs these missiles to enhance the air-to-air self-defense capability of its F-16 aircraft and
provide for increased interoperability with U.S. forces."

Jordan in August criticized what it called Israel's "interference" in the proposed arms deal. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz reportedly asked the Pentagon to cancel the planned sale of the air-to-air missiles to Jordan.

Jordan has extensive commercial and political ties with Israel, with which it signed a peace treaty in 1994.

Although, according to Israeli media, Jordan is not considered a major threat by Israeli security sources, some fear the sale to Amman could encourage Egypt to make similar arms deals with Washington, tipping the strategic balance in the Middle East.