Jordan gets Israeli choppers to fend off Islamic State

Hashemite Kingdom receives some 16 Cobra helicopters to protect Syrian and Iraqi borders, Reuters reports

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Illustrative photo of a Cobra AH-1 attack helicopter (photo credit: Ofer Zidon/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a Cobra AH-1 attack helicopter (photo credit: Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

Israel gave Jordan a set of retired combat helicopters to help the country defend its borders against the Islamic State and other insurgent groups in neighboring Syria and Iraq, Reuters reported Thursday.

Approximately 16 of the Cobra combat helicopters were given, said the official who preferred to remain nameless. “Though some may have been used by the Jordanians for spare parts.”

“These choppers are for border security,” a US official told Reuters.

Some 60 Cobra gunships, manufactured by Texas-based Bell Helicopters, were originally given to Israel by the United States, forming two squadrons in the Israeli Air Force — the first in 1979 and the second in 1985. But the aircraft were decommissioned in 2005 and 2013 in favor of the more powerful Apache helicopters.

The Royal Jordanian Air Force currently commands 29 Cobra helicopters, according to the British International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.

Israel and Jordan have been allies since since signing a historic peace agreement in 1994.

The Hashemite Kingdom has taken an especially active role in fighting the Islamic State since the terror group killed a captured Jordanian pilot in February.

At the time, King Abdullah II pledged to step up the fight against IS after it burned the pilot in a cage and released a gruesome video of the killing, shocking Jordanians.

Abdullah has said Jordan’s response “will be harsh because this terrorist organization is not only fighting us, but also fighting Islam and its pure values.”

Soon after the the king made his remarks, Jordanian warplanes launched dozens of strikes against the Islamic State.

Jordanian and Israeli officials refused to comment on the transfer.

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