US sending Patriot missiles, F-16 fighter jets to Jordan
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved the deployment of Patriot missiles and F-16 fighter jets to Jordan, a CNN report said on Monday.
The weapons from the US will be used in the upcoming “Eager Lion” military training drill but may stay in the Kingdom to bolster its security to prevent a spillover of the violence from Syria.
Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani confirmed the report.
“The government acknowledges that the US is sending Patriot missiles and F-16 jets to Jordan. This is the result of continuous discussions over the last few weeks,” Momani told The Jordan Times over the phone.
“This is in line with Jordan’s declared intention to acquire advanced weapons, and comes in line with our military and defence cooperation with the US,” he added.
According to Lt. Col. T.G. Taylor, who is a spokesman at the US Central Command, the weapons may remain in Jordan after “Eager Lion” has concluded.
“In order to enhance the defensive posture and capacity of Jordan, some of these assets may remain beyond the exercise at the request of the government of Jordan,” he told CNN.
Growing pressure is mounting on the United States to secure a no-fly zone over Syria as the violent civil war has spread over its borders.
During “Eager Lion”, US forces will join exercises involving more than 15,000 troops representing 18 Arab and foreign countries.
The drill, expected to be held later this month, aims to increase the level of coordination among civil, military and humanitarian organisations and boost cooperation between participating states and enhance the readiness of their troops.
Outside the “Eager Lion” exercise, the US announced it will send 200 military planners to the Kingdom to help the Jordan Armed Forces with its long-term strategies in case of a chemical weapons crisis in Syria or a major humanitarian disaster.
This was confirmed by Hagel last month, as he told the US Congress: “The defence department is sending some 200 soldiers to Jordan to assist efforts to contain violence along the Syrian border and plan for any operations needed to ensure the safety of chemical weapons in Syria.”
By Rhiannon Williams