12feb15 Upate — On 11feb, UAEAF F16s participated in airstrikes against ISIS targets, according to ABC News. This shows the Emiratis are serious, and the deployment to Jordan wasn’t just for show. The UAE General Command announced their aircraft conducted a series of strikes in the morning. Although the targets were not given, the UAEAF was previously hitting ISIS targets in Syria. All jets returned safely to base.
The General Command of the UAE Armed Forces said Emirati F-16s carried out a series of strikes Tuesday morning, according to a brief statement carried by the Gulf nation’s official WAM news agency.
The fighters returned safely back to base after striking their targets, the statement said. It did not elaborate, nor did it say whether the strikes happened in Syria or Iraq.
8feb15 Update — UAEAF Block 60 F-16s and other aircraft have arrived in Jordan, according to Khaleej Times. Colonel Pilot Saeed Hassan, Commander of the UAE Force in Jordan, reportedly said “Our presence in Jordan is aimed at offering support to Jordan in encountering Daesh terrorist group and providing all forms of operational support.”
7feb15 — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced it will send a squadron of its F-16 E/F models to Jordan to help in the fight against ISIS, according to a piece by ABC News. See more info in this post.
This was a pretty dramatic reversal of the UAE’s “stand down” order issued in December, when they suspended participation in Operation Inherent Resolve after Jordan’s pilot was captured by ISIS. Reportedly, the Emiratis were concerned about the lack of Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) assets to cover their pilots.
Background on the UAEAF
Some US military officers are calling the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the “Little Sparta”, because of its aggressive stance against Iran & Islamic extremism. And the Emirate’s Air Force, the UAEAF (say it three times fast), is probably the best equipped, best trained and most capable of any Arab country.
The UAE was one of the first to join Operation Inherent Resolve, even before the op had been named. An excellent Washington Post article describes how eager the UAEAF was to fly combat missions against ISIS.
Three days before President Obama planed to commence airstrikes against the Islamic State, U.S. commanders invited UAE military leaders to al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, where the U.S. Central Command’s regional operations center is housed.
American officers presented their Emirati counterparts with a list of proposed targets for their pilots to bomb in Syria. The Emiratis objected, according to two officers present at the session. Instead, they said, the UAE officers sought to do more.
“They said, ‘We want to do this, this and this,’ ” one of the officers recalled. “They wanted to hit more aggressive targets and provide more airplanes. They offered more than we were asking.”
The UAE has invested heavily in equipping its Air Force with 1st-rate aircraft and equipment. It’s two front-line fighter types are the F-16 and the Mirage-2000. The UAEAF cut a special deal with the US, and its F-16E/F models, are “Block 60” aircraft which are the world’s best F-16s–even better than those in service with the USAF.