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UAE deploys F-16 squadron to Jordan to hunt down ISIS militants

February 7, 2015 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The United Arab Emirates ordered a squadron of F-16 fighters to Jordan, which an official said would participate in airstrikes on the Islamic State group after the UAE earlier suspended its involvement.

A flight of UAE F-16s with F-16E block 60 #3076 in second position is flying over the emirates' dessert. [UAEAF photo]

Although the UAE announcement, carried by the state news agency WAM, did not say what role the Emirati warplanes would play, tt seems that the UAE fighter jets will participate in airstrikes on Islamic State targets.

The move "reaffirms the UAE's unwavering and constant solidarity with Jordan", the country's official news agency reported. Both countries are members of a U.S.-led military coalition against the militants.

Late last year, the UAE suspended its airstrikes against ISIS citing fears for its pilots’ safety in case of downed planes. The UAE reportedly wanted rescue aircraft closer in case a plane went down. It was rumored before that Moroccan pilots were going to pilot the Emirati Vipers.

After ISIS killed the RJAF pilot, Jordan has pledged harsh retaliation and said it would intensify strikes on Islamic State group targets an go after the militants "wherever they are." Starting Thursday, Jordanian jets have carried out daily attacks.

The most recent airstrikes are "the beginning of a continued process to eliminate them and wipe them out completely," Jordan's interior minister, Hussein al-Majali, said of the militants who control about a third of neighboring Syria and Iraq.

Additional images:

UAEAF F-16E block 60 #3081 is performing during a demo at the Dubai airshow on November 13th, 2011. This airframe was added to the UAE order after one of their aircraft crashed before delivery. [ photo by David Marshall]

UAEAF F-16F block 60 #3017 takes off from Nellis AFB on February 3rd, 2011 during Red Flag 11-2. [USAF photo by A1C. Daniel Hughes]