Royal Jordanian Air Force put its Chinese-made Combat Drones up for sale

Royal Jordanian Air Force put its Chinese-made Combat Drones up for sale

According to janes.com, the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) has put its Chinese-made armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) up for sale

In a notice posted on its website on 3 June, the RJAF said it was looking to sell six CH-4B UAVs, a type made by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

The RJAF acquired the type in 2016 along with AR-1 laser-guided missiles and FT-9 guided bombs. The Jordanian aircraft are capable of operating beyond line of sight as they are fitted with satellite communications equipment.

It’s unclear why Jordan is trying to get rid of its CH-4s just three years after acquiring them but the current move might indicate that RJAF is disappointed with their performance.

Another possibility is the divestment is related to Jordan’s ongoing efforts to source Predator-style drones from the United States.

“The general command of the Jordanian armed forces … announces its desire to sell the following aircraft,” the defense ministry in Amman stated on June 3, 2019.

The for-sale list includes four CASA transports, an old C-130B cargo plane, 12 Hawk 63 training jets, six MD530 helicopters and six CH-4s.

The Jordanian air force’s No. 9 Squadron operated the Chinese-made drones. The same unit operates the air force’s other unmanned aerial vehicle, including Schiebel S-100 Camcopters and Leonardo Falcons.

Royal Jordanian Air Force put its Chinese-made Combat Drones up for sale
The RJAF is looking to sell its CH-4B UAVs a little over a year after it unveiled the type at the SOFEX show held in May 2018. (IHS Markit/Patrick Allen)

It wasn’t until May 2018 that the Jordanian air force displayed a CH-4 in public.

“Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq have all acquired the CH-4B armed version, and the type has been employed widely on operations in Yemen and against Daesh targets in Iraq.”

But Jordan never gave up trying to get permission to buy American drones, which are widely considered as having better sensors, weapons and communications links than the Chinese drones do.

Jordan bought the missile-armed CH-4s, which are broadly similar to General Atomics’ early-model Predators around 2016 after the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama rejected Amman’s request for MQ-1 Predators.

Amman perhaps believes Pres. Donald Trump is more open to approving drone sales to Middle East customers, not only for the military benefit but also as a way of commercially competing with China.

 

 

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