Jordan gets US Black Hawk helicopters to bolster defenses

Jordanian pilots stand next to helicopters during a handover ceremony held to deliver Black Hawk helicopters to Jordan from the US government at Amman military airport.

:: The United States delivered eight Black Hawk helicopters to Jordan on Thursday to help its regional ally defend itself against the threat of ISIS militants, Jordanian and US officials said.

They said another eight Black Hawks would begin arriving next year under a military aid deal worth about $200 million.

The helicopters are central to a US-funded “Quick Reaction Force” set up by Jordan to counter ISIS, which controls large swathes of territory in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

In a handover ceremony at Marka military air force base, US ambassador to Jordan Alice G. Wells said Washington had supplied “millions of rounds of small arms ammunition, hundreds of bombs” and other equipment to Jordan since February last year.

“The United States is committed to standing with Jordan to face the threat posed by Daesh,” she told senior Jordanian army officers, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

“As you employ these aircraft in the fight against Daesh, know that we will be standing right there next to you.”

Jordan is among a few Arab states that have taken part in a US-led air campaign against the hardline militant group.

In December 2014, a Jordanian pilot was captured by ISIS after his F-16 crashed in territory it controlled in Syria and later burned alive.

Jordanian army members participate in a hostage rescue drill during a Black Hawk helicopters handover ceremony to Jordan from the US government, at a Jordanian military base near the town of Zarqa.

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