As a former Commander of the King Hussein College and Director of Training, the current Commander of the RJAF recognizes the value of a solid training program. “The status of the flying school at Mafraq has been recently upgraded from College level to University level, working together with nearby Al-Bayt University. This means that students can get a degree in aviation and majors like ATC and navigation starting from 1 December 2015.”
Mafraq Air Base is the main training base for the RJAF, providing basic and advanced training capabilities for all future RJAF pilots. The RJAF is also providing training for the Air Forces of Kenya, Pakistan and Turkish Air Force. This international program might be expanded in the future. Besides that, exchange programs exist with the USAF at Sheppard AFB (T-38), United Arab Emirates Air Force and with the Pakistan Air Force at Risalpur Air Base (T-37).
When students arrive at Mafraq they have already finished one year of academic training at the University studying avionics theory and a course in English. Pilots start out at 4 Squadron providing basic flying training on the Slingsby T67M260 Firefly, in service since 2002. Seven instructor pilots operate eleven different airframes, all sporting a white color scheme. The aircraft were upgraded to include an air conditioning system for the pilots, sand filter and electric trim and flap systems. The basics syllabus on the T67, which consists of around 24 missions, is split up into three parts; the first 10 missions are spent on basic flying techniques, followed by up to 7 missions of circuit training and landings. The last 8 missions are the most difficult for the pilots when they engage in solo flights, solo area and solo formation flights. About 20 percent of the pilots fail this first part of the syllabus, mostly when flying solo.
The 80 percent of the students that do make it, progress on to the Basic Handling Test (BHT) phase on the Sling
sby, which consists of around 33 missions. After this mid-term courses start to be more specific, focusing on instrument flying, night flying, formation flying and navigation. When finishing the courses on the Slingsby (totaling up to 89 missions), graduated students progress to 11 Squadron flying the Casa C101, or 5 Squadron equipped with the Robinson R44 for further training.
The Slingsby is slated for replacement and the RJAF is considering Grob G120 aircraft as their new basic training aircraft although a decision has yet to be taken about the new basic training aircraft.
Advanced flying training is performed on the Casa C101, in service since 1987. On 10 August 2015, the RJAF signed a contract for nine PC-9Ms, a simulator, training equipment and logistical services, signaling the end for the C101.The contract was later amended to nine PC-21s. Deliveries of the PC-21 will start in January 2017 and gradually will replace all C101s.
Another recent acquisition is eight Robinson R44 Raven IIs, that replaced the Hughes 500D and 500E in the helicopter training role. Delivery of the helicopter took place late 2014 and early 2015. Pilots transiting to 5 Squadron for helicopter training usually have to finish 130 hours on the type before moving on to the operational helicopter squadrons. The first course on the Robinson start
ed in August 2015.
When finishing the syllabus on the C101 (or PC-21 in the near future), fighter pilots are transferred to H5/Prince Hassan Air Base for tactical flying. 17 Squadron operates thirteen BAe Hawk Mk63s, which were bought in 2013 from the United Arab Emirates as a successor to the F-5. The unit is now fully operational and has eight instructor pilots teaching classes in tactical flying and also trains instructor pilots. Although expensive to operate, the pilots are very pleased with the Hawks and hope these can be upgraded wth new avionics in the years to come. They are also eying and expansion of the fleet by six more former UAE Hawk 102s. After finishing on the Hawk, fighter pilots are transferred to 2(OCU) Squadron at El-Azraq Air Base for Operation Conversion on the F-16, which lasts almost a year.
The Hawks have replaced the last Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighters, which has been in service in Jordan since the late seventies, and were retired in December 2015. In recent years eleven were sold to Brazil (2008) and 15 to Kenya (2010). US based TACAIR is now negotiating the purchase of the final batch of F-5s to operate them in the adversary role in the US.
Pilots that are selected for other types of aircraft will have their OCU training at the relevant squadron after they finish the C101 program.
Also based at Mafraq is the Flying Instructors School, using eight yellow Slingsby T67M260 and six AS350B3s for their goals. This school was founded in 2013 to train future instructor pilots for the RJAF. The yellow T67s were delivered by Swift Aircraft from the UK in 2011 (former Babcock Defence Services aircraft, providing training for the RAF) and lack the aforementioned sand filters, air conditioning and electrical trim & flap.