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Al Quwwat Al Jawwiya Al Malakiya Al Urduniya

Royal Jordanian Air Force


(up to 1996 the time of our visit)

Jordan, from its establishment as a separate mandated country in 1920, relied totally on the British for air support.Two air stations were constructed, one in Amman (RAF Amman) and one in Mafraq (RAF Mafraq), and were officially opened in 1931.

Soon Trans-Jordan set up her own flight for air operations. In the first place using only old and outdated aircraft, quite suitable for training and observation, but useless against modern, better equipped combat aircraft of the other states in the region. By 1950, the flight consisted of a D.H.Rapide, four Percival Proctors, two D.H Tiger Moths and two Auster Autocrats. In May 1950, the Jordan government proposed to established a small air force, limited in shape and size to a training flight, plus a small Air Observation Post (A.O.P) squadron to consist of six Austers with photographic capability.

King Hussein recognized the vital need for adequate air support and decided to expand and acquire fighter jet aircraft. On September 25th 1955, the Arab Legion Air Force was renamed the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) after the United Kingdom's decision to donate nine Vampire jet fighter-bombers to Jordan. In April 1956, the command of the RJAF was transferred from the British to the Jordanians whereby Major Ibrahim Othman became the first Jordanian Air Force Commander. By 31 May 1957, Mafraq and Amman Air stations had been evacuated by the British and handed over to the RJAF.

After the revolution in Iraq (1958), the RJAF embarked on an expansion program receiving the first batch of Hawker Hunter aircraft to form No.1 Fighter Squadron. Widgeon and Whirlwind helicopters joined the transport fleet, which included Doves, Herons, Rapides, and Austers. In 1959-60 joined by three Airspeed Ambassadors, which were swopped in 1963 for two HP Heralds, in the 1960s three Westland Scout helicopters were delivered. For training the Chipmunk equipped No. 4 squadron. In 1962, No.2 squadron was formed with Hunter aircraft to replace the aging Vampires, and the latter was taken out of service. December 1964 saw the first Jordanian air combat against the Israeli Air Force where four Hunters scrambled to fight against Israeli Mirage IIIs. One Israeli Mirage was downed and three damaged. This aerial battle is known in the RJAF as the battle of the Dead Sea. In 1966, Jordan signed a deal with the US to acquire a squadron of F-104s.

As Iran took delivery of F-5Es, Iran trasferred 20 F-5A and two F-5Bs to Jordan in December 1974. Followed by 10 F-5A and two F-5Bs in September 1975. These equipped No. 1 and No. 2 Squadron. 31 of the replaced Hunters were delivered to Oman. The first batch of F-5Es along with two new F-5Bs arrived at PHAB in 1975 and was attached to No.17 Squadron. Also in 1975 No. 6 Squadron received ex USAF T-37B training aircraft. Its F-5A/Bs replacing the Hunters of No. 2 Squadron, so becoming an OCU Squadron. On 1 July 1977 the remaining F-104s were withdrawn and replaced by F-5E/Fs, 11 Squadron became the 3rd F-5E/F unit in 1980. In total 61 F-5E and 12 F-5Fs were delivered, later followed by an ex Sudanese F-5F and an pair Ex IRIAF F-5Es via Iraq.

A new supplier was France in the form of the Mirage F1, 17 F1CJ air defence versions and two F1BJ two-seaters were delivered in 1981-82 for the newly formed 25 Squadron. Followed in in 1982-83 by 17 F1EJ Multi-role versions for No. 1 Squadron. 

The venerable Chipmunk was replaced by the Bulldog.11 Mk.125 and were delivered in 1974-76, followed by nine Mk. 125As in 1981-82. For Helicopter training eight Hughes 500Ds were taken on charge by No. 5 Squadron from October 1980.

In 1985 No. 6 Squadron exchanged titles and equipment with No. 11 Squadron. In 1987, the Casa 101 Jet trainer came into service with No. 11 Squadron at King Hussein Air College replacing the T-37B, which were passed on to the Greek and Turkish Air Forces. No. 2 Squadron was disbanded, the OCU task was taken over by the CASA 101 and the F-5E/F squadrons.

The transport fleet consisting of the Airlift Wing, the Royal Squadron and the Air Police Wing, operates a selection of fixed wing and helicopter aircraft. The Airlift Wing was established in 1971 with four C-47s together with Alouette IIIs flown by No. 3 Squadron. Soon after its establishment, the wing set about a modernization programme with the C-47 being replaced in 1975/76 by four Casa 212A Aviocars. In 1972 three ex USAF C-119s arrived, a fourth crashed in France on its delivery flight. The C-119 was however soon withdrawn due to its limited reliability and replaced by ex USAF C-130Bs which in their turn were in 1979-82 replaced by new C-130Hs. Odd was the use of three Iraqi Air Force An-12s in 1982-84 for the ferry of Shenyang F-6s to Jafr were they were assembled.

The wing also had No. 7 Squadron which operated the Alouette IIIs ex No. 3 Squadron and the Sikorsky S-76. These helicopters were in 1987 replaced by Super Pumas. In 1994 the wing eactivated No. 8 and No. 14 Squadron, equipped with ex US Army UH-1Hs delivered in October 1994. The Attack Helicopter Wing was formed in 1986 with No. 10 and No. 12 Squadrons with the AH-1F Cobra.

Visits to RJAF bases in the period 30th of March - 2nd of April 1996

Operations Command

Al Matar Air Base, Amman/Marka

Date of visit: 30th of March 1996


All of No. 3 Sqn aircraft have 'Guts Airline' painted on each side of the nose. This photo shows C-130H 347.

Only two Casa C.212-100s remained on strengh, with the serials 324 and 326 (photo), both part of No. 3 Sqn.

No. 7 Sqn got ten AS 332M-I Super Pumas, frequently being used for humanitarian work outside Jordan, hence the civilian registrations, like this one 738/JY-RSA. 

No. 8 Sqn is operating the UH-1H, of which eighteen were acquired from US Army stocks. This UH-1H with the serial 804 (66-16594) still in the US ARMY drab camouflage.

Twenty-four AH-1F Cobras were delivered to Jordan in 1985. The helicopters are armed with BGM-71 TOW missiles, and are the RJAF's primary anti-tank asset. All Cobras are with No. 10 and 12 Sqn. This photos shows 1002 from No. 10 Sqn.  

Mowafaq Al Salti Air Base, El Azraq

Date of visit: 31st of March 1996


In 1981-83 in total 36 Mirage F1s were delivered. In 1981-82 17 F1CJs and two F1BJs, followed in 1982-83 by 17 improved F1EJs. In 1996 all were flying with No. 1 Sqn. Mirage 118 was received from Spain. Photo: ready for a new afternoon mission is Mirage F1BJ 2519 in the grey scheme. 

Lined up for a new mission is Mirage F1CJ 2508. 

Returning from his mission is camouflaged Mirage F1EJ 105. 

Prince Hassan Air Base, H5

Date of visit: 2nd of April 1996


At the time of our visit the final phase of their course is a mass flight of F-5Es and F-5Fs with all the participating pilots who graduated. In total circa twelve F-5E/F-5Fs participated in this flight.

One of the pilots participating in the mass flight.

Jordan obtained a total of 44 F-5Es and 13 F-5Fs shared between three squadrons, Nos. 6, 9 and 17 Sqn. No. 9 was based at King Feisal Bin Abdul Aziz Air Base, Al Jafr. Photo: in front is camouflaged F-5E 1721.

Photographed from the top of a shelter is F-5F 1750.

F-5E 655 (ex 1155, 11 still visible under the 6) is followed by F-5Fs 951 and 1752 plus F-5E 1706. In the background an F-5F waiting for his turn.

F-5Es 935 and 931 were also part of this flight.

Still waiting for his mass flight is F-5F 1755.

And finally we could photograph F-5E 1713 in the silver scheme of the initial deliveries.

Decoys at Prince Hassan Air Base, H5

The Royal Jordanian Air Force F-104s were replaced by the F-5E. The remaining F-104s were withdrawn on the 1st of July 1977, and the denote of an A was added to the serials. Eight ended up at H-5 as decoys, some were camouflaged like 905 to resemble an F-5. In 1971 a letter code was added on the fin of the F-104s in serial order, the C on the fin of 902A and the D on the 905. 

F-104B 902A with the letter code C on the fin. 

F-104A 905 with the D on the fin. 

Training Command

King Hussein Air College, Al Mafraq

Date of visit: 2nd of April 1996


Bulldog Mk.125 406 is the only one in camouflage with No. 4 Sqn. The RJAF received 13 Mk.125s. Photographer unknown/Collection Marinus Dirk Tabak.      

No. 4 Sqn has also the Bulldog Mk.125A in his inventory, of which 11 were bought. This one is with the serial 416. 

No. 5 Sqn conducts rotary-wing training with 8 Hughes 500Ds, with this one 507 in the serial range of 500-507.  

Twelve Casa C-101CCs were in service with the RJAF all part of No. 11 Sqn. This unit conducts basic jet flying, weapons and tactical training.

Hunter F.73A 842 (ex Oman) has been returned to his former 1sq markings, with the hope to restore it to flying conditions with the Royal Jordanian Air Force Historical Flight.

Photo gallery

With thanks to the Dutch Embassy in Amman, the Royal Jordanian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mohammed Al Ababneh and to all the other individual persons at eatch base for their great suppot. 

The authors: Volkert Jan van den Berg, Ron Damstra and Marinus Dirk Tabak.

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