The United Arab Emirates Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Desert Falcons are into their second day of renewed air strikes against the so-called Islamic State forces (ISIS / ISIL / Daech).
Through the UAE news agency WAM the UAE Armed Forces issued a brief statement on Tuesday 10 February 2015, saying that the UAEAF F-16s carried out a series of strikes on Tuesday morning from the Jordanian airbase they deployed to in the weekend. The fighters returned safely back to base after striking their targets, according to the UAE.
Experts assumed that the strikes took place in Syria, possibly around Raqqa, but this has not been confirmed independently.
Jordan F-16s have destroyed 56 Islamic State (ISIS) targets over the last three days, the Jordan government in Amman stated on 8 February. The stepped up effort is a response to the brutal execution of the Jordan F-16 pilot captured by ISIS last December. On the same day, US foreign minister John Kerry said the international coalition has significantly forced back ISIS.
Along with actual bombardments, the Jordan authorities have also stepped up propaganda effort, with lots of footage of bombs being loaded and airstrikes being carried out, showing up on YouTube. The Jordanians are now responsible for 20 percent of all air strikes against ISIS. Weapons depots and hide outs have been destroyed, according to Amman.
The Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) has several dozen Lockheed Martin F-16s in use, mostly of the F-16AM and BM versions. The first contract for 16 aircraft was signed in 1996, with deliveries starting in 1997. All are ex US, Belgian or Dutch aircraft, with 15 more former Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) aircraft on the way.
UPDATED 8 FEBRUARY 2015, 22:35 UTC | The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is back in the game of fighting the so-called Islamic State forces (ISIS / ISIL) in Syria and Iraq. UAE’s state news agency WAM reported on Sunday 8 February that the UAE Air Force is sending a squadron of F-16s to Jordan. Later that day, the first F-16s arrived in Jordan already. Pics of the ferry flight are found here, several pics of their arrival are here.
The Emirates suspended their direct involvement in the US coordinated Operation Inherent Resolve a month ago, after a Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) F-16 jock was captured by ISIS. Earlier this week Jordan intensified its air strikes in anger, after it became apparent that ISIS burnt the captured Jordanian pilot alive. Sources say the Jordanians concentrate their attacks on targets in and around Raqqa, with the US providing operational and logistic support.
Interesting bit on the UAE F-16s is that the UAE national flag on the tail of some aircraft appears to have been removed. According to Jordanian officials the UAE jets will participate again in direct combat. However, neither the UAE or Jordanian government have officially acknowledged which role the UAE Air Force Desert Falcons will play.
Although the Mirage 2000D was primarily built by Dassault for the French Air Force need of an attack plane, the most current operations require something else of plane and crew. Deployed to Jordan a soon to be six-plane strong detachment has joined the official international operations against so-called Islamic State forces in Iraq as armed reconnaissance jets, on 6 December 2014.
Nine weeks after the beginning of the Operation Chammal – the French name for what the US calls Operation Inherent Resolve – the current three Mirage 2000Ds executed their first recon sorties against what the French call terrorist group Daech and many others call ISIS or ISIL. The triplets arrived on 28 November and will be joined soon somewhere around the time of this publication by another three Deltas.
Meanwhile, the Armée de l’Air’s newest fighter jets deployed to the United Arab Emirates continue to focus on both intelligence and stand-by for strike options. In fact two of these Dassault Rafale planes – nine are in the area – bombarded a Daech / ISIS position in Iraq on Saterday 1 December 2014 at 08:30 hours Paris time. Rafales struck again on 5 December 2014 on a Daech / ISIS fortified position 20 kilomtres (14 miles) northwest of the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
The French launched their operations in Iraq on 19 September 2014, lead by the commanding admiral of the Idian Ocean Zone (Alindien), on request by the US supported government of Iraq.
Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) F-16AM aircraft dropped their first bombs on Islamic State (ISIS) targets in northern Iraq on Tuesday, the Dutch MoD confirmed. The F-16s arrived in Jordan last week to join the air campaign over Iraq.
Two F-16s delivered a total of three bombs, destroying ISIS vehicles involved in fights with Kurdish troops. The air strike follows that of Belgian F-16s over the weekend. US airstrikes have been ongoing for weeks in Iraq and Syria, with aircraft from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates also attacking targets.
The RNLAF has dispatched eight F-16s to Jordan, including two reserves.