Jordan has received close to 16 retired US supplied Cobra combat helicopters free of charge from Israel to counter insurgents on the Syrian and Iraqi borders.
“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,” Reuters quoted an US official as saying Thursday.
“These choppers are for border security. Around 16, though some may have been used by the Jordanians for spare parts,” the official said.
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, US 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.