The Royal Jordanian Air Force hosted its fourth annual Falcon Air Meet, or FAM, for two weeks last October at Mwaffaq Salti AB in Jordan. As in previous years, FAM was highly successful—thanks to F-16 pilots, maintainers, and industry participants from around the world.
Three countries participated in the 2009 meet. The United States was represented by the 169th Fighter Wing, the South Carolina Air National Guard unit at McEntire JNGB. Belgium was represented by 349 Squadron from Kleine-Brogel AB. Jordan was represented by Squadron 1 from the host air base. Also in attendance were air force representatives from Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, England, Greece, Italy, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. These countries came to observe in hopes of participating in future FAMs.
Representatives from the 140th Wing, the Colorado Air National Guard unit at Buckley Air Force Base, once again judged the meet. The Colorado Guard was instrumental in the inception of the first Falcon Air Meet in 2006.
The 2009 meet was built around real-world coalition scenarios that drove the competition events and continuation training. The meet kicked off with a four-ship formation arrival. It was followed by a simulated attack on the base, causing F-16s to be scrambled in a large force employment.
Once airborne, the F-16 pilots performed a defensive counterair mission through an air-to-air intercept. During these missions, the fighters were supported by air-to-air refueling, which allowed them to remain in the fight longer. Eventually the pilots needed to land to reload weapons as quickly as possible to return to the air for an offensive counterair attack.
The three air forces participated in other continuation training during the three weeks in Jordan, including basic fighter maneuvers, air combat training and other large force employment missions. Unlike previous years, the 2009 meet added close air support training with Jordanian Special Forces and US Air Force joint terminal attack controllers.
The South Carolina team took top honors in five of the competition’s six categories, including top overall team. Formation arrival required a four-ship flight of F-16s to arrive over a designated target in a symmetrical formation. This competition was won by the Royal Jordanian Air Force with a perfect score of 100 points. The RJAF pilots showed “good formation and action,” according to the judges , and their arrival time over the target was precise to the second.
Scramble launch and intercept required pilots and crew chiefs to work together to safely launch an alert aircraft in the fastest time possible and then for the pilot to conduct an intercept mission. A mere ten points separated the first-place South Carolina team and the second-place Jordanian team. Large force employment was a two-part competition in which a flight of F-16s was tasked to drop inert Mk 82 500-pound bombs on a target at a precise time.
Later, the jets uploaded live Mk 82 bombs and engaged a ground target. The judging parameters were airspeed, dive angle-of-attack, release altitude, accuracy, and time on target. Each F-16 carried two bombs. The winning South Carolina ANG team scored 190 points of a possible 200.
The weapons load competition involved crews loading two air-to-air missiles to an F-16. The event was judged on speed, safety, and reliability. The top overall maintenance award—based on the overall results of the scramble, weapons load, and sortie generation—was won by the South Carolina Guardsmen.
Brig. Gen. Yousef Al-Hnaity, Mwaffaq Salti AB commander, emphasized that the Falcon Air Meet is not just about competition. “The interaction between teams showed me how these pilots and maintainers matured during their time here,” he said. “The Falcon Air Meet is not about competing and winning trophies . It’s about enhancing our relationship on professional and personal levels.”
Lt. Gen. Faisal bin Al Hussein, special assistant to the chief of staff of the Jordanian Armed Forces and the creator of the event, presented the awards during the closing ceremonies. “This has been a great opportunity to work together in different scenarios as one team,” he said. “Falcon Air Meet is about building friendships, learning from each other, and helping each other bring peace to the region.”
FAM brings together partner nations to demonstrate tactics and techniques through friendly competition and continuation training in airborne, ground, and maintenance events. The meet prepares air forces of participating and observing countries for future coalition operations and increases strategic readiness. The experience raises the proficiency and employment capabilities of all air forces involved.