Jordan Table of Contents
United States military assistance to Jordan began on a small scale in 1950, but in 1957 the United States became Jordan's principal source of equipment following the termination of the British subsidy. A large-scale purchase of ground force equipment in 1965 was followed in 1967 by orders for F-104 Starfighter aircraft and support gear. After the disastrous losses of military equipment during the June 1967 War, United States military aid, most of which had been supplied on a credit basis, was shifted to grant form. Additional purchases of American hardware were made possible by massive postwar financing from friendly Arab states.
Although Jordanian forces played only a token role in the October 1973 War with Israel, Arab losses renewed Hussein's determination to expand and modernize Jordan's military capabilities. An improved air defense system had the highest priority. After a study of Jordan's air defense needs, the United States Department of Defense recommended supplying Jordan a mixture of American weapons, including the Improved Hawk SAM, the Vulcan 20mm radar-guided antiaircraft gun, and the Redeye shoulder-fired missile. The proposal resulted in protracted negotiations in Washington between the United States Congress and the executive branch. The Israeli Embassy in Washington and American Jewish organizations applied strong pressure on Congress to reject the sale, arguing that the twenty-one Hawk batteries Jordan wanted would reinforce the Soviet-supplied SAM capability of Syria, making all of Israel vulnerable to the combined weapons coverage. Hussein threatened publicly to withdraw the request and accept an offer of comparable missiles from the Soviet Union. Inasmuch as the weapons were to be paid for by strongly anticommunist Saudi Arabia, however, Hussein was obliged to reject Moscow's offer. Ultimately a compromise was reached under which the United States would provide fourteen Improved Hawk batteries to be permanently emplaced as defensive weapons in the Amman-Az Zarqa area and at airfields and radar installations east and south of Amman. Final agreement was reached on the US$540 million arrangement in September 1976.
Not only did the negotiations over the Hawk system prove humiliating to Hussein, but also the system as finally negotiated did not fully meet Jordan's need because of the limited coverage afforded by the missiles and their extreme vulnerability at fixed sites. Disagreement persisted over the scope and cost of other United States weapons systems that Jordan could buy with funds underwritten by other Arab countries. In 1979 Jordan sought to acquire moderate numbers of F-16 fighter aircraft and approximately 300 M-60 tanks. The United States delayed in responding because of a new policy designed to reduce the amount of weapons transfers to Third World countries. A much reduced shipment of 100 M-60 tanks was eventually made available to Jordan but without important modern features such as night sights and advanced fire control. Hussein accordingly turned to Britain for Chieftain tanks and modernization kits for Jordan's existing Centurion tanks, and to France for Mirage aircraft as substitutes for the F-16s.
In early 1984, President Ronald Reagan proposed selling 315 Stinger launchers and 1,600 missiles to Jordan but was forced to withdraw the proposal because of continued congressional opposition. Hussein's biting criticisms of American policy contributed to the negative attitude in Congress. In 1985 the administration put before Congress a new package valued at US$1.9 billion, which would have included 40 F-16s or F-20 aircraft, 300 advanced air-to-air missiles, 72 Stingers, and 32 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles. The most controversial feature of the package was a proposal to upgrade the existing fixed Hawk batteries by converting them to mobile units and adding six new mobile Hawk batteries.
Congress effectively blocked this transaction as well by setting conditions on the Jordanian-Israeli peace process that Hussein was unprepared to meet. In early 1986, the administration suspended indefinitely its efforts to supply major systems to Jordan. Military assistance has since been carried on at a pace adequate to sustain existing readiness levels by providing selective upgrading of equipment, together with training, spare parts, and service, and help in building up ammunition stocks. Close relationships continued to be maintained with the Jordanian military in spite of differences over new equipment items. The United States and Jordan expanded senior officer exchanges. The United States has supplied technical assistance teams and instructor training programs, and has developed specialized training courses tailored to Jordanian needs. Joint military exercises also have been held annually on Jordanian territory.
From 1950 through 1988, the United States furnished a total of about US$1.5 billion in military aid, US$878 million in loans and US$631 million in grants. The grant program amounted to US$26.5 million in FY 1988. For FY 1989, the administration proposed US$48 million in military sales credits but Congress approved only US$10 million. For FY 1990, the administration again requested US$48 million. The United States also planned to provide funds for military training and education amounting to US$1.8 million in fiscal year 1989. This money would enable a total of 452 Jordanian military personnel to receive training or professional education in military colleges in the United States during FY 1989.
Data as of December 1989
Jordan Table of Contents