WASHINGTON — A US lawmaker who met with Jordan's King Abdullah earlier this week is calling on the president to send Jordan surveillance drones he says the administration previously refused to send.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said in a letter to President Obama today that the administration should immediately reverse its decision to deny Jordan's General Atomics request to export its for unarmed Predator XP. The San Diego-based company had requested a DSP-5 export license to market the drone to Jordan.
The Jordanian monarch, during a visit to the US this week, had has also requested aircraft parts, additional night vision equipment and precision munitions.
"Jordan has made requests for specific resources — including ammunition," Hunter's letter reads. "Given our mutual interests, and our strong relationship, it's absolutely critical that we provide Jordan the support needed to defeat the Islamic State."
The General Atomics-made Predator XP, the export version of the MQ-19 Predator, made its first flight in August. It has a maximum altitude is 25,000 feet and an endurance of 35 hours, and it comes with a Block 30 radar.
AFP reports Jordan's announcement that its warplanes launched new strikes Thursday against the Islamic State group, after vowing a harsh response to the burning alive of one of its fighter pilots captured in Syria.
Jordan has conducted regular raids against IS in Syria as part of a US-led campaign against the Sunni extremist group, which has seized swathes of the war-torn country and of neighboring Iraq.
On Tuesday, the Jordanian monarch had cut short a visit to the US after Islamic State militants released a video of the pilot's death. During the visit, Abdullah expressed gratitude to lawmakers for ongoing US assistance but said he was experiencing delays obtaining certain types of military equipment.
The next day, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a joint statement, called for quicker action to assist Jordan and requested a briefing from the State Department, which runs the venue for Jordan's requests, the US foreign military sales program.
Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, has criticized President Obama's response to the Islamic State group. In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Hunter said Abdullah had, when they met, expressed a desire for "retribution" for the pilot's death.
"ISIS is now going to regret this more than anything else. Because King Abdullah is not President Obama," Hunter told Fox. "They're gonna increase air sorties, increase people on the ground,and hopefully they will lead from the front and they will crush ISIS, that is what has happened here and that is what the King said they were going to do."
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.