New role for Jordanian Skytrucks?
On July 29, the US Department of Defense announced that the Sierra Nevada Corporation had been awarded what was referred to as an “undefinitized contract action” for the modification of a PZL Mielec M28 aircraft for the Royal Jordanian Air Force.
The value of the contract was “not-to-exceed” $10,224,545.
The contracting authority for this foreign military sales (FMS) deal was named as the 645th Aeronautical Systems Group, based at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Also known as ‘Big Safari’, this is the United States Air Force programme office responsible for the management, direction, and acquisition, modification, and logistics support for special purpose weapons systems derived from existing aircraft and systems – especially for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance and signals intelligence.
This gives a clue as to the likely nature of the modifications to the Jordanian Skytruck.
The announcement did not reveal any details of the proposed modification but said that the work was expected to be completed at Centennial, Colorado and Amman, Jordan by the end of July 2018.
Under the terms of the contract, Sierra Nevada was to modify one aircraft, look after spares, and offer field service representative support for 12 months after aircraft delivery, as well as being responsible for ferry flying.
Whether the second Jordanian Skytruck will receive similar modifications remains unclear.
A Royal Jordanian Air Force M28 Skytruck 355 arrived at Cambridge on August 12 2016, amid reports that it was en route from Jordan to the US for upgrade/modification.
Jordan originally ordered two M28 aircraft in 2013, although manufacturer PLZ Mielec (owned by Sikorsky since 2007, and thus now part of Lockheed Martin) did not announce the contract. The company does now acknowledge that Jordan is an operator of an unspecified number of M28s.
The first aircraft departed Mielec on December 18 2014 and was seen in transit at Sharm-el-Sheik on December 20. The next aircraft was delivered almost exactly one year later.
The two aircraft were assigned to No3 Squadron at Amman-Marka, alongside two C295s and 10 C-130s. They have been used for border patrol and special forces support.