Securing the Kingdom from the Air

Amman, Jordan During the course of Jordan’s Falcon Air Meet 2013 both US and Jordanian crews and pilots are taking advantage of the opportunity to train up to mission sets reflective of potential threats and contingencies which could unfold not far from the country’s borders. Lt. Col. Pat Hanlon, the squadron commander for the Colorado Air National Guard’s 120th Fighter Squadron, noted in an interview that the first week of flying with the Royal Jordanian Air Force will consist mainly of various air-to-air scenarios, while the second half will be more focused on providing close air support. Specifically, Jordanian and ANG pilots are practicing “defensive counter air” or DCA events—where a pair of fighters will scramble to identify an unknown aircraft, then (simulate) shooting it down. The RJAF specifically is looking to see how pilots respond to so called “defector profiles,” Hanlon noted. In such cases, a pilot from a belligerent country enters Jordanian airspace seeking to switch sides or take asylum. Several Jordanian pilots in the exercise have experience in flying combat air patrols in NATO’s Operation Unified Protector in Libya—where several defections occurred from the Libyan side. “It all starts on the ground,” Hanlon noted, pointing out there are specific procedures, radio and non verbal communication procedures, to learn in order to confirm a pilot does not have ill intent.