Israel had two squadrons of Cobra helicopters originally provided by the United States. Ideal for aerial surveillance, ground troop cover fire, and evading enemy missiles, both squadrons were disbanded by the Israeli Air Force by 2013 in favor of the Apache.
But according to US officials, the Cobras will soon see new life in Jordan.
“These choppers are for border security,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. In the handover, the Royal Jordanian Air Force will receive “around 16, though some may have been used by the Jordanians for spare parts.”
Jordan already has 25 Cobras, and the new helicopters will be added to that fleet.
The news came amid US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to the region last week, where he stressed Washington’s interest in combatting the threat posed by IS.
“We’re trying to get a defeat that sticks,” Carter told a group of US troops on Friday, according to NBC News. “And that can be delivered only by the people that live here. That’s the secret sauce.”
Initiated last year, the deal has the full approval of Washington, a surprising reversal from last summer when the US blocked an Israeli effort to sell its Cobra helicopters to Nigeria. At the time, then-US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington’s objection was due to “ongoing concerns about the Nigerian military’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations.”
Earlier on Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry told a think-tank in New York that he planned to reach out to Russia for help in forging international cooperation in the fight against the terrorist group.
"We have to change the dynamic in Syria," Kerry told the Council on Foreign Relations, according to Reuters.
“We want to bring the Saudis in, we want to bring the Turks in, and ultimately, probably, we will have to see what the Iranians are prepared to do,” he added.
This followed Thursday’s announcement that the Turkish government had decided to allow the US to use Incirlik Air Base to launch air strikes against IS militants. While Turkey had long opposed becoming involved in the conflict, border clashes in the past week forced Ankara to conduct its own military operations against the terrorist group earlier on Friday.
Source: Reuters; Photo: AP