China is offering to sell Jordan missile-firing drones to fight the Islamic State terror army, according to a U.S. congressman.
“I am now aware that China is presently in Jordan to discuss operations, logistics and maintenance associated with the urgent sale of weaponized unmanned systems,” Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, said in a letter on Thursday to President Obama.
Rep. Hunter has pressed the Obama administration — to no avail — to approve the sale of Predator unmanned surveillance aircraft to the kingdom.
The congressman raised the prospect of key ally Jordan, and its ruler, King Abdullah II, turning away from the U.S. and toward China for a key piece of military equipment.
Jordan has asked to purchase unarmed MQ-1 Predators to find Islamic State targets and monitors its movements in neighboring Iraq and Syria.
Jordan is an important coalition member in the war against the Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS), flying U.S. F-16 fighters in coordination with American warplanes.
ISIL captured one of Jordan’s F-16 pilots and burned him alive.
Talking to China shows the degree to which Jordan believes it urgently needs drones. If there is a sale, it would likely mean Chinese advisers, pilots and technicians would gain access and influence in the Arab kingdom.
“Allowing Jordan to obtain Chinese assets––simply due to delays in U.S. considerations and process—is a serious mistake,” Mr. Hunter wrote. “Not only will a new market exist for China to export its technology, any incorporation of Chinese assets will directly harm U.S. interoperability….I am confident that we can curtail Jordan’s interest in Chinese assets by taking this immediate action.”
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has told Congress that the administration is considering a Predator sale to Jordan.
Mr. Hunter represents the San Diego area, home to the Predator’s manufacturer.
The Predator is a major asset for U.S. war planners in Iraq, allowing them to find ISIL troop concentrations and vehicles.