One F-16 For the Worth of two.5 F-35s: Why Jordan’s Newly Ordered Final Gen. Fighters Are the Most Costly Ever

The lengthy awaited order contracting of modernised F-16 Preventing Falcon fourth technology fighter jets for the Royal Jordanian Air Power was confirmed on January 19, and has been on the centre of main controversy since as a result of terribly excessive worth being paid for the plane. Twelve F-16s, a light-weight multirole fighter class that first entered service in 1978, are being acquired for $4.21 billion – which means every airframe and its related weaponry, spare elements and upkeep gear will set the Jordanian defence funds again a bit over $350 million. The fee has been thought-about extortionately excessive not solely when in comparison with different purchases of F-16s within the similar Block 70/72 configuration overseas, but additionally in comparison with a lot greater finish and extra trendy fighter lessons, with the F-16 being marketed as a low value plane for purchasers unable to afford its new fifth technology successor the F-35. Taiwan, for instance, in 2019 contracted 66 F-16 Block 70/72 airframes beneath an $8.1 billion contract – which means it paid $125 million per airframe or simply over one third as a lot per airframe as Jordan did for the exact same plane. The price of the Taiwanese acquisition was itself seen as unusually excessive and controversial each domestically and overseas as a result of F-16’s age, weight vary and restricted capabilities. 

The price of Jordan’s F-16 acquisition has appeared much more uncommon when evaluating it to the F-35, which isn’t solely round 60 % bigger, but additionally technologically three many years forward with innovative stealth capabilities and an engine that places out 46 % extra thrust. Trying to related contracts for the export of F-35s with related elements, armaments, upkeep instruments and coaching, Jordan is proven to be paying way more for final technology fighters than different international locations are paying for the newest stealth jets. In 2020 Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak signed a $4.6 billion contract value $4.6 billion for the acquisition of 32 F-35As from the USA, for a worth of $143.75 million per plane. Polish F-35s thus value simply 41 % as a lot as Jordanian F-16s – and for a similar contract worth roughly 30 F-35As may have been acquired as an alternative of the 12 F-16s. Finland two years later in 2022 signed a contract to buy 64 F-35As for $9.4 billion, for a unit value of $146.88 million per airframe, putting the price at 42 % that of Jordan’s F-16s. The distinction is much more important contemplating that Jordan has already operated F-16s for many years, with 47 presently in service, which means the transition and investments in weapons, coaching and upkeep infrastructure ought to be significantly decrease than these for international locations introducing a completely new fighter class as Poland and Finland are with the F-35. 

Jordan’s acquisition is way from remoted amongst main fighter purchases by Arab states, which have typically include extremely uncommon worth tags. Essentially the most notable latest instance was Kuwait’s acquisition of 28 Eurofighters for $321 million every, which sparked appreciable controversy within the nation and led to critical questions being raised by the nation’s parliament. The Jordanian case is extra uncommon nonetheless, since not solely is the F-16 a a lot older and lighter plane than the Eurofighter, and one with a single fairly than twin engine configuration, however it is usually an plane produced on a a lot lager scale and by a defence sector which has persistently supplied decrease costs and better effectivity than its European rivals. The truth that Jordan’s F-16s are the most expensive fighters ever exported, whereas additionally being the bottom finish Western fighters in manufacturing as we speak, is very irregular and has raised widespread hypothesis of very substantial state corruption to greater than triple the price of the light-weight American jets. Though such hypothesis has been frequent to fighter offers throughout a lot of the Arab world, significantly for acquisitions from Europe and the USA, the Jordanian contract has supplied by far essentially the most excessive distinction between worth and product and is anticipated to attract essentially the most criticism to this point. 

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