U.S. official: Israel Gives Jordan Cobra Helicopters For Border Security

Israel has given retired U.S.-supplied Cobra combat helicopters to Jordan to help the Hashemite kingdom fend off insurgent threats on the Syrian and Iraqi borders, a U.S. official with knowledge of the deal has told Reuters.

The handover, initiated last year, was approved by Washington, which provided mechanical overhauls for the aircraft before they were incorporated free of charge in Jordan’s existing Cobra fleet, the official said.

“These choppers are for border security,” the official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, told Reuters.

Asked how many Cobras were transferred, the official said: “Around 16, though some may have been used by the Jordanians for spare parts” rather than kept intact.

Jordanian and Israeli officials declined comment, as did the Pentagon.

Israel and Jordan, as well as Saudi Arabia and Iraq, this week hosted U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who offered reassurances about the regional fight against Islamic State and the July 14 international deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel originally had two Cobra squadrons – each consisting of around 30 of the aircraft, which are designed to back ground troops with aerial surveillance as well as machine gun and rocket fire, and to be nimble enough to elude surface-to-air missiles.

One of the squadrons was disbanded in the mid-2000s and the other in 2013, with Israel’s air force preferring the more powerful, U.S.-supplied Apache helicopters also in its fleet and an expanded role for its thrifty and versatile pilotless drones.

The Jordanian air force has 25 Cobras in service, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. The Cobra’s manufacturer is Bell Helicopter, a Textron company.

Following Egypt, Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994. But the countries had maintained discreet security ties dating back to the early 1970s and Israel has pledged to step in should Amman be threatened by Islamic State or other insurgents rampaging elsewhere in the Middle East.

2 replies
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    סוכנות הידיעות “רויטרס” דיווחה אחר הצהריים (חמישי) מפי גורם אמריקני כי ישראל העבירה לידי ירדן מסוקי קרב שהוצאו משימוש במטרה לסייע למדינה להילחם בארגון “המדינה האיסלאמית” (דאעש), שמחבליו נמצאים על גבולות ירדן.

    הגורם שהעדיף להישאר בעילום שם סיפר כי העסקה אושרה על ידי וושינגטון, שסיפקה חומרי חילוף למסוקי ה”קוברה”. נציין כי בישראל כונו המסוקים הללו “צפע”.

    גם בישראל וגם בירדן מסרבים להגיב לדיווח. “המסוקים משמשים לאבטחת גבולות”, מסר הגורם וסיפר כי ככל הנראה הועברו שישה עשר מסוקים, “אולם ייתכן שחלקם שימשו את הירדנים לחלקי חילוף”.

    בהקשר הזה נציין כי שר ההגנה האמריקני אשטון קרטר, ביקר השבוע בישראל, בירדן, בסעודיה ובעיראק. קרטר נפגש עם המנהיגים ושוחח עמם על המאבק האזורי בדאעש ועל העסקה שנחתמה עם איראן.

  2. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    Israel has given retired US-supplied Cobra combat helicopters to Jordan to help it fend off insurgent threats on its Syrian and Iraqi borders, a US official with knowledge of the deal told Reuters Thursday.

    The supply of the choppers was initiated last year and has been approved by the US, which provided mechanical overhauls for the aircraft before they were transferred into Jordanian hands, free of charge.

    “These choppers are for border security,” the American official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, told Reuters. He said about 16 Cobras were involved, though some may have been used by the Jordanians for spare parts.

    Jordanian and Israeli officials declined comment, as did the Pentagon.

    Jordan is gearing up for a possible invasion by Islamic terror groups, local media reported in mid-June.

    According to reports, King Abdullah II, while touring border areas near Iraq and Syria on June 15, offered to arm Bedouin tribes living in those areas – on both sides of the border – to fight against Islamic State and Nusra Front, which threaten Jordan from the east and north.

    Abdullah’s concern has been growing in recent weeks, reports said, over the fact that after 3,000 bombing raids by the US and its allies, ISIS has not been beaten back – and seems only to get stronger.

    With the organization solidifying its rule in much of Iraq and Syria – and in line with its pledge to expand its “Islamic caliphate” to the entire world, starting with the Muslim countries – Abdullah believes that Jordan is high up on ISIS’s list for an attempted takeover.

    Meanwhile, Jordan faces another danger from the north.

    The Nusra group, a fundamentalist organization associated with Al Qaeda, controls much of the area on the other side of the Syrian border. This group, too, has expansionist plans, and the open frontier between Syria and Jordan is almost an open invitation to incursions by the group.

    Abdullah stated that it was Jordan’s obligation “to assist Arab tribes in Iraq and Syria,” hinting that he would rely on the tribes as a first line of defense against incursions by ISIS and Nusra.

    The tribes living on both sides of the border have close ties, and Abdullah believes that they would aggressively defend their areas from invasion by the Islamist groups, reports said.

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