September 13, 2015: Strategy Page
Jordan recently revealed more details of the Israeli assistance it was receiving for the fight against Islamic terrorism. Israel has supplied Jordan with a dozen lightweight Slylark UAVs and the services of one or more larger Heron TP UAVs. Israel has also provided special electronics and software so that Jordan can more effectively track its own troops and possible Islamic terrorist activity. There appears to be some cooperation in the area of special operations (command0) troops. Both nations have a good track record in this area but Jordan can more easily put their commandos into Iraq or Syria than can Israel.
It’s no secret that since the late 1960s Israel and Jordan have been on good terms. This is mutually beneficial because both nations have large numbers of Palestinians to deal with and these Palestinians tend to be a source of disloyalty for both the Jewish dominated democracy of Israel and the Bedouin (Arab) monarchy of Jordan. Since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 Jordan has had to deal with lots of refugees and, for a while, more Islamic terror attacks. Jordan continues to keep Islamic terrorists from reaching Israel via Jordan and provides valuable intel on what is going on in Syria and Iraq and the Arab world in general. As it has done for decades, Israel also passes on any useful intel to Jordan, especially if it involves attacks against the royal family.
Jordan is poor and does not have a lot of money for new equipment. Thus the arrival of the Israeli Skylark UAVs was much appreciated. This UAV has been around since 2008, has an impressive combat record and a new version (Skylard 1LE) recently showed up. This is a 7.5 kg (16.5 pound) aircraft with a 1.1 kg (2.4 pound) payload. This is sufficient to carry Israeli designed vidcam, laser designator and communications gear that can work with the American Rover ground terminals (designed to let commanders on the ground see what UAVs are seeing). Max endurance is three hours, max altitude is 4,700 meters (15,000 feet). Max distance from the operator is 40 kilometers.
The Heron TP has been in service since 2009 and is similar to the 4.5 ton American Reaper. Equipped with a powerful (1,200 horsepower) turboprop engine, the 4.6 ton Heron TP can operate at 14,500 meters (45,000 feet). That is above commercial air traffic and all the air-traffic-control regulations that discourage, and often forbid, UAVs fly at the same altitude as commercial aircraft. The Heron TP has a one ton payload, enabling it to carry sensors that can give a detailed view of what's on the ground, even from that high up. The endurance of 36 hours makes the Heron TP a competitor for the U.S. five ton MQ-9 Reaper. The big difference between the two is that Reaper is designed to be a combat aircraft, operating at a lower altitude, with less endurance, and able to carry a ton of smart bombs or missiles. Heron TP is meant mainly for reconnaissance and surveillance, and Israel wants to keep a closer, and more persistent, eye on Syria, southern Lebanon and now parts of Jordan threatened by ISIL. The Heron TP has also been rigged to carry a wide variety of missiles and smart bombs.
In the 1967 war with Israel, the Jordanians caused the Israelis more trouble than any other Arab army. Since then, the Israelis and Jordanians have maintained good relations, partly because of the realization that war between the two nations would be particularly bloody. Jordan also became a good ally of the United States, and American Special Forces have worked with their Jordanian counterparts for decades. Another thing that keeps the Jordanian troops on their toes is the fact that most Jordanians are non-Bedouin Palestinians, a population that has produced a lot of terrorists and disloyal Jordanians. The royal family of Jordan, from an ancient Bedouin family, takes very good care of the largely Bedouin armed forces, which provides security for the royal family.