Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is an Arab country in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and the east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and Israel and the Palestinian West Bank to the west. The Dead Sea is located along its western borders and the country has a 26-kilometre (16 mi) coastline on the Red Sea in its extreme south-west. Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman, is Jordan's most populous city as well as the country's economic, political and cultural centre.
What is now Jordan has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic period. Three stable kingdoms emerged there at the end of the Bronze Age: Ammon, Moab and Edom. Later rulers include the Nabataean Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned by Britain and France. The Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by the Hashemite, then Emir, Abdullah I, and the emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, Jordan became an independent state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, but was renamed in 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan after the country captured the West Bank during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and annexed it until it was lost to Israel in 1967. Jordan renounced its claim to the territory in 1988, and became one of two Arab states to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. The sovereign state is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers.
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 In the first place using only old and outdated aircraft, quite suitable for training and observation, but useless against modern, better equipped comb at machines of the other states in the region. By 1950, the flight consisted of a D.H.Rapide, 4 Percival Proctors, 2 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, Rapides, and Austers. 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-104's.
In December 1974, as Iran took delivery of F-5Es, it also transferred 31 F-5A's and B's to Jordan. The first batch of F-5Es arrived to PHAB in 1975 and was attached to No.17 Squadron. No.6 Squadron also received T-37 aircraft the same year. In 1987, the Casa 101 Jet trainer came into service at King Hussein Air College replacing the T-37B. The transport fleet consisting of the Air Lift Wing, the Royal Squadron and the Air Police Wing, operates a selection of fixed wing and helicopter aircraft. The Air Lift Wing was established in 1971 with four C-47s together with Allouette III's flown by No.3 Squadron. Soon after its establishment, the wing set about a modernization programme with the C-47 being replaced, by C-130s and C-119. The C-119 was soon withdrawn due to its limited reliability.
During 1975/76, four Casa 212A aviocars were supplied that were later to be replaced by two leased Casa CN-235Ms. The wing operated the Alouette 3 flown by No.7 Squadron, and the Sikorsky S-76. In 1987 the Alouettes were replaced by Super Pumas. Recently, the wing reactivated No.8 and No.14 Squadron, following the delivery of US Army UH-1Hs in October 1994. The Attack Helicopter Wing was formed in 1986 with No.10 and No.12 Squadrons flying the AH-1F Cobra. The Sikorsky S-76 has been replaced by the S-70 Black Hawk. In 2003 a Casa C-295 was added to the transport fleet.
The RJAF received its first F-16 fighting Falcons in December 1997 which enabled 2sq to be reactivated. In 2003 the delivery of 17 surplus USAF F-16A/B ADFs commenced.
Joint Special Operations Command
Also part of the armed forces is the Joint Special Operations Command (SOCOM). The Prince Hashem Bin Abdullah II 5th Aviation Brigade at Al Zarqa / King Abdullah II Air Base. They operate helicopters as well as the CN235M in gunship configuration.