U.S. delivers 8 Black Hawks to Jordan for its anti-IS battle
One of eight UH-60A helicopters, better known as Blackhawks, delivered from the United States to Jordan's Marka Airport, in Amman, Thursday, March 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
Sam McNeil, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, March 3, 2016 10:02AM EST
AMMAN, Jordan -- The United States gave Jordan eight refurbished helicopters on Thursday for the battle against Islamic State extremists along the kingdom's borders.
Pro-Western Jordan is part of a U.S.-led military coalition against IS, which controls large parts of neighbouring Syria and Iraq.
The kingdom also faces internal threats from IS sympathizers. Earlier this week, Jordanian troops killed seven suspected IS-linked militants in a raid in the north of the country. The suspects had allegedly plotted attacks in Jordan.
Alice Wells, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan, said in a handover ceremony Thursday that the delivery of the Black Hawks is part of ongoing military support for Jordan that also includes additional guns and surveillance equipment.
Wells told her hosts at Marka military airport in the capital of Amman that "as you employ these aircraft in the fight against Da'esh, please know that we are honoured to partner with you." Da'esh is an alternative Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
The ambassador said the helicopters will also help secure Jordan's borders, which are currently being monitored with a U.S.-built electronic detection system.
After she spoke, one of the helicopters swooped low over the seven others parked on the tarmac.
U.S. officials said eight more Black Hawks of an upgraded type are to be delivered to Jordan by the end of 2017, as part of a U.S. military aid package of several hundred million dollars.
Wells said the U.S. has also expedited delivery of more than 26,000 rifles and machine-guns, more than 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition, hundreds of bombs and 5,000 night vision devices to Jordan.