The US State Department has approved the sale of various military equipment to Middle Eastern allies on Thursday, costing Jordan over $4.21 billion worth of F-16 fighter jets. Saudi Arabia also joins the list with a Multifunctional Information Distribution System–Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT) worth $23.7 million, and the United Arab Emirates buying parts for the Raytheon MIM-23 Homing All the Way Killer (HAWK) missile, Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target (PATRIOT) missile, and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense systems worth $65 million.

It looks like US allies in the Middle East are boosting their military capacity in a big way. Jordan, last February 4, had requested 16 F-16s that are upgraded to the Block 70 (F-16V) configuration, specifically 12 F-16Cs and 4 F-16Ds. These, along with subsystems, weapons, munitions, and logistical support, bring the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) to a more formidable position when it comes to protecting their air space.

A Royal Jordanian Air Force Pilot snapping a photo in his F-16, 2011 (Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jordanian_Air_Force_F-16_Fighting_Falcon_pilot.jpg
A Royal Jordanian Air Force Pilot snapping a photo in his F-16, 2011 (US Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Asha Kin via Wikimedia Commons)

Among these subsystems and machinery are 21 F100-GE-129D engines and F100-PW229EEP engines, with 16 already installed having five engines as spares. It also purchased 21 Improved Programmable Display Generators, 21 AN/APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Scalable Agile Beam Radars (SABR), 21 M61A1 Vulcan cannons, and 72 LAU-129 launchers, to name a few. Its principal contractor was said to be Lockheed Martin. The complete list of this purchase can be viewed here.

This means that a total of 79 F-16s battle-ready aircraft are now available to be used by the Royal Jordanian Air Force through its Peace Falcon I-VI program. This allows Jordanian fighter aircraft to be modernized to compete with an ever-changing environment for defense readiness. The Jordanian Air Force is generally considered to have pretty good pilots behind the stick.

Jordan also bought 31 Link 16 Low-Volume Terminals for their aircraft and ground stations to improve radars, GPS navigation systems, and other vital military equipment.

The US had stated that it approved the sale to “support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally.”

Approved Military Sales to Saudi and UAE

Despite initial hesitation to sell weapons and military technology to Saudi Arabia due to their alleged human rights abuses in its own participation in the Yemen Civil War, the deal was pushed through on February 3 as it had been the subject of multiple Houthi drones and missile attacks in recent memory.  This represents a certain sense of political reality. Just because we refused to sell weapons to the Saudis doesn’t mean our NATO allies like France, Germany, Turkey, and the UK would refuse.

Wanting to improve military communications, Saudi Arabia purchased 31 units of the Multifunctional Information Distribution System–Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT) with the Block Upgrade 2 and other communications equipment, engineering, and technical support assistance, and logistics amounting to a total of $23.7 million.

The MIDS-LVT will be a core component to be added to Saudi’s very own Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) systems to be able to defend itself from short and medium-range ballistic missiles, many of which have advanced “hit-to-kill” technology. This means, that rather than using a proximity fuse to detonate the anti-missile missile near the target, the missile is hit directly, utterly destroying it in flight.

The military sale was said to be done to counter the destabilizing effects of terrorism and Iranian influence, among other threats.

With the United States sending the UAE a guided-missile destroyer and several F-22 Raptors and F-35 Lightning II combat jets after it had been the subject of Iran-aligned Houthi drone and missile attacks last January 17, the US had approved the sale of spare and repair parts for Homing All the Way Killer (HAWK), Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target (Patriot), and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems worth $65 million.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors launched during a intercept test conducted by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Operational Test Agency, Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, and U.S. Pacific Command, in conjunction with U.S. Army soldiers from the Alpha Battery, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, U.S. Navy sailors aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG-73), and U.S. Air Force airmen from the 613th Air and Operations Center (Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thaad-launch-1016475-1170x610_(1).jpg
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors launched during an intercept test conducted by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Operational Test Agency, Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, and U.S. Pacific Command, in conjunction with US Army soldiers from the Alpha Battery, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, US Navy sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG-73), and US Air Force airmen from the 613th Air and Operations Center (US Missile Defense AgencyCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons).

This military sale comes after the UAE used their Lockheed-made THAAD system to intercept mid-range ballistic missiles when Houthi militants attacked an Emirati oil facility near the Al-Dhafra Air Base. This attack killed three civilians and wounded 6. Following the attacks, the UAE determined that it would be necessary to update its air defense weapon systems to respond, deter, and defend against hostile threats.

The FSM press release had stated that “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important regional partner. The UAE is a vital US partner for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”

The US has pledged to continue working with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan in protecting its borders and territory against terrorism, as well as general defense efforts to keep allies in the region safe and prepared.

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