The Israeli Defense Ministry is in negotiations to sell 29 retired F-16 fighter jets to a Canadian company. The deal is valued at $100 million, and is set to be the largest of its kind ever. The planes are General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon of the A/B variety, and had been in the Israeli Air Force’s possession since the 1980s, the last of which was retired from service in 2016. The Israeli Defense Ministry’s Export Agency (SIBAT) which is responsible for selling used military equipment is overseeing the deal.
Top Aces provides the Canadian Air Force, the U.S. Air Force, and the Australian Air Force aircraft that simulate enemy combat threats, also known as the “Red Force”: its aircraft and pilots imitate enemy aircraft and practice interception drills against “Blue Force,” or the military. The company also offers services to Western navies that are interested in conducting exercises that involve combating airstrikes. the company has already announced that it will soon be adding F-16s to its fleet that now includes Skyhawk and Alpha jet aircraft.
The use of a private company to facilitate the transaction also cheapens the deal, since employing used planes and private pilots is cheaper than using new combat planes and operational pilots. In the 1980s, the U.S. Air Force purchased Israeli Kfir aircraft for these enemy smulations, but now uses private companies for the same operations. In 2019, the U.S. Air Force paid $6.4 million to seven private companies to provide enemy simulation services, some of whom purchased surplus Israeli Kfir and Skyhawk aircraft.
The Israel Defense Force/Air Force ordered a total of 362 F-16s, from early F-16A/Bs to the latest F-16I. Fifty of these aircraft were surplus USAF aircraft, given to Israel by the US as payment for restraint during the 1991 Gulf War despite Scud attacks. All Israeli F-16s are fitted with custom Israeli electronics. Israeli F-16s have been used extensively in combat, and scored 47 kills to date. They were also used in the bombing of the Iraq’s nuclear reactor in Osirak.