Royal Jordanian Air Force inks deal to procure 10 Bell 505 trainer helicopters

The helos are part of an ongoing modernization push by the Middle Eastern kingdom.

The Royal Jordanian Air Force inked a deal with Bell Textron to procure 10 Bell 505 trainer helicopters on the first day of Special Operations Forces Exhibition & Conference (SOFEX) Tuesday in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba.

The deal includes delivering 10 helicopters and flight training devices with computer-based training packages by 2024, meant to enhance the air force’s training capabilities at King Hussein Air College.

“The helicopters will be delivered in different batches. Five helicopters will be delivered in 2023 and five helicopters will be delivered in 2024. All the training devices will be delivered along the way starting from 2023,” Patrick Moulay, Bell’s senior vice president for international sales, told Breaking Defense by email.

He added that the Bell 505 will not be used as utility or special forces helicopters, but “the main purpose of the helicopter will be training therefore it will be dedicated to the training Academy to train the young military cadets. To teach them the basics on how to fly those helicopters.”

The Royal Jordanian Air Force is undergoing a modernization push, and the Bell helos will replace the Robinson R44 Raven II trainers. T plans to phase out its Bell UH-1H helicopters and MH-6 Little Bird helicopters. Additionally, the air force has signed a letter of acceptance for eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft from Lockheed Martin. Moulay told Breaking Defense the Robinson-based aircraft had “reached their life limit.”

In the 2021 fiscal year budget, the United States dedicated $425 million in State Department Foreign Military Financing funds for Jordan.

“We look forward to adding the Bell 505 aircraft to our fleet and providing our pilots with one of the best possible aircraft for their training,” said Brig. Gen. Mohammad F. Hiyasat, the commander of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, in a statement. “The addition of 10 new aircraft will enable us to further expand our operations in the country, in turn increasing the capabilities of the Royal Jordanian Air Force.”

The King Hussein Air College is an air base at Mafraq city and gives a three-year-long academic program for aviation science, navigation and air traffic control.

Moulay highlighted Bell 505’s simplicity as a trainer. “From the glass cockpit standpoint, everything is integrated in the cockpit. So, it’s a perfect trainer to prepare the pilots to move on to much bigger aircraft with sophisticated avionics. The primary advantage of this helicopter is that it’s technically advanced with modern avionics to prepare the pilots to grow through the military fleet of the RJAF,” he said.

He added that the firm is looking forward to offering the Bell 525 military transport helicopter to the RJAF, as Bell eyes its bird as a replacement for Jordan’s aging Super Puma.

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