F16 is a multi-role fighter that serves Heyl Ha'avir in attack and interception missions. The plane entered service in 1980, and forms the IAF's backbone to this day. The F-16's carry out a wide range of complex missions, from attacking deep in enemy territory to air superiority, and have built up an extraordinary record of acheivement in Heyl Ha'avir.

A year after their arrival the planes already attacked the Iraqi nuclear reactor, destroying it completely. In Operation Peace for the Galilee they achieved air dominance by shooting down about 40 Syrian planes, in the course of the operation against the SAM's in the Beka'a valley.

The F-16's participate in numerous operations, on a variety of missions, to this day.




The first single seat model of the F-16, designated for assault and interception. Took off for its debut flight in 1978. the plane was purchased by many airforces in the world, among them - the IAF.


The double seat model of the F-16, designated for training and instruction. Besides the extra seat, the double seat model is identical to the single seat model in its systems, engine and flight performance.


The improved model of the single seat F-16. Took off for its debut flight in 1984. As apposed to the A model, the C model was equipped with advanced avionics systems and a more powerful engine. The plane's structure was strengthened to enlarge its ability to carry advanced armaments. These capabilities made the C model better than its previous models in air-ground missions, as well as in air-air missions, and it excelled in night activities and poor weather.

February 9th 1987 , the three first F-16Cs land in Israel. This is the first batch out of a total 75 F-16 C and D models Israel is to receive in the course of this year and the next.


The double seat model, based on the F-16C. took off for its debut flight in 1984. As the C models, the D model is heavier than the first F-16 planes, but it makes up for that with its carrying capabilities. The plane serves in the United States and Israel air forces, as well as a number of air forces around the world.


The F-16I nicknamed "Sufa" (Storm) is manufactured by "Lockheed Martin" and equipped with a "Pratt & Whitney" engine as well as advanced systems developed in Israel according to the IAF's specifications by the country's defense industries.



The F-16 was developed in the 70's, as part of the American response to the Soviets' numerical advantage in fighter planes. Since the F-15's price tag made it impossible to purchase in large numbers, the idea was to develop a less expensive plane, that could replace the F-15 in most of its missions, without necessarily being able to match it in the entire spectrum of its capabilities. A tender for offers to produce such a plane was issued by the US DOD in 1972. The specified requirements were of a general nature, giving the planners maximal freedom to come up with their own ideas. General Dynamics and Northrop both made bids, and developed the prototypes YF-16 and YF-17, respectively. In the end - in 1975 - the USAF preferred General Dynamics' model because of its agility, maneuverability, better acceleration and operational range.

The company carried on with the engineering development research that was needed in order for turning the
F-16 into a production fighter. The USAF was the first to purchase the new plane, and was followed by other air forces. The F-16 became an multi-national plane, produced both in and outside of the USA.

Over the years, the Fighting Falcon gained its standing as the most ubiquitous and prominent Western fighter of the late 20th century.

General Dynamics' engineers had fully utilized the freedom of action given them, and designed a plane with a sleek aerodynamic shape that improves flight quality and ability to react in combat situations. An intake was placed at the plane's belly, for improved maneuverability at attack angle. Narrow, elongated extension surfaces between the nose and wing roots increase elevation and serve to stabilize the plane. In addition, a 'fly by wire' digital flight control system improves maneuverability, while the bubble canopy affords the pilot an unobstructed field of vision - quite an advantage in a dogfight.

As a multi-role fighter, the F-16 was fitted, over the years, for carrying a vastly diverse array of rockets, bombs and cannon, with a total weight of almost seven tons. In air-to-air missions it carries Sidewinder,
Python-3, Python-4 and Python-5 missiles, in addition to its internal 6 barrelled Vulcan 20 mm. cannon. On air-to-ground missions, the Fighting Falcon can carry air-ground missiles, guided bombs and iron bombs (see below).



The IAF shows interest in a new plane: the F-16

Heyl Ha'avir evinced interest in the F-16 when it was just in its early development stages. The new plane's advantages were not lost upon the IAF top brass, who intended for the F-16 to become the IAF's first-line fighter in the early 1980's. The initial contacts regarding purchase of the plane were held in September of 1975. Following a meeting in the Pentagon between the Israeli Minister of Defense, Shim'on Peres, and his American counterpart, James Schlesinger, the US expressed its agreement, in principle, to supply Israel with 100 planes. Israel was not content with receiving ready made planes, and asked for a license to manufacture key parts of the plane in Israel, or even to fully assemble it in Israel. This request met heated opposition in the American administration. The US contended that Israel had, in the past, made use of American technology for independent production of weapons, in a way that hurt American export interests.

The IAF Commander, General Benny Peled, visited the US in August of 1976, and received a full briefing about the F-16 from a team of senior USAF officers. In the end, a request was filed for purchasing the planes regardless of the production license issue, and the US agreed to sell Israel 250 planes. In 1975 this number was scaled down to 150, because the US refused to set up an assembly line in Israel. In the end, the IAF received 75 planes.

The deal is done

On February 14th 1978 the US announced a package deal for selling arms to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which included the sale of 75 F-16's and F-15s to Israel in return for $1.9 billion. Israel was scheduled to receive the planes in mid-1981. Following the Shah's downfall and the rise of the Khomeini regime in Iran, the supply of 160 F-16's to Iran was canceled, and the Americans offered the Israelis their planes months before schedule.

The first four F-16's - two single seat A models and two tandem seat B models - landed in Israel on July 2nd 1980, and received a ceremonial welcome in an IAF base in northern Israel. The planes had been flown in to Israel in a flight that lasted 11 hours, with American pilots at the controls. They had been accompanied by a Phantom, and had carried out several midair refuelings. In Israel they were given the Hebrew name 'Netz'.

The first kill - and Osirak

In April of 1981 the F-16 accomplished its first kill ever, when Maj. Raz's plane shot down a Syrian Mi-8 helicopter. Later that day another F-16 shot down yet another Mi-8. On July 14th of that year the first fighter was shot down: Amir Nahumi, commander of the F-16 Squadron, shot down a Syrian MiG-21 in a dogfight.

About a year after the arrival of the first F-16's, on June 7th 1981, a flight of eight F-16's, escorted by six F-15s, attacked the Iraqi nuclear plant 'Osirak' a short time before it was to become operational. This operation - code named 'Opera' - temporarily removed the Iraqi nuclear threat.

'Peace for the Galilee', and a new arms deal

On the 4th day of the 'Peace for the Galilee' campaign, on July 9th 1982, F-16's participated in the destruction of Syria's SAM's in the Lebanese Beka'a Valley. Israel's F-16's shot down about 40 Syrian fighters in the course of the war - most of them during the operation against the SAM's.

In the months that preceded 'Peace for the Galilee', the F-16's had shot down five Syrian fighters: three MiG-21's and two MiG-23's. It was during this time that negotiations began for the purchase of 75 more F-16 C and D models, but this was postponed because of the war in Lebanon, and was only finalized in August of 1983. The $3 billion deal was the largest-scale arms purchase Israel had ever carried out. It included a commitment by General Dynamics, the American manufacturer of the F-16, to carry out reciprocal purchases totalling $300 million in Israel. These purchases included deals with private Israeli companies as well as production orders from the IAI and from Israel's Military Industry.


The first three F-16C's arrived on February 9th 1987, flown by American pilots. They landed at an IAF base in northern Israel and were given the Hebrew name 'Barak'.

The F-16 C/D models have several conspicuous improvements that differentiate them from the A/B models. They have more powerful engine with greater static thrust, as well as improved radar, an advanced cockpit with two multi-function displays (MFD's) and a holographic wide angle heads-up display (HUD), a stronger airframe affording greater payload carry capacity, improved electronic warfare (EW), 'fly-by-wire' controls and advanced weapons systems, night flight and night fighting systems as well as other avionics.

A squadron is born

A new F-16 squadron was established on August 1st 1994, and was equipped by 50 F-16 A/B planes that Israel received from the USAF surplus. A special IAF team had tested and picked the planes, some of which had participated in Desert Storm. The F-16's, all of which were at least 10 years old, were rigorously tested upon their arrival in Israel, fully disassembled and only reassembled after all their parts had been evaluated. They then underwent improvement, which mostly meant engine upgrades and retrofitting of unique IAF systems. After being absorbed in the squadron, they underwent another series of test flights and weapons tests.

A year after they equipped the squadron, the planes had their first day in battle, in the ranks of the IAF: the
F-16's carried out attack sorties against several targets manned by Ahmed Jibril's men, around Nu'eimeh and Damur in Southern Lebanon.

'Grapes of Wrath': F-16's over Beirut

In Operation 'Grapes of Wrath' (1996) the IDF and its air arm, Heyl Ha'avir, targeted terrorists in Southern Lebanon, with the purpose of halting 'Katyusha' rocket fire against Israeli civilians in the northern Galilee. In the course of the operation, the IAF's new F-16 squadron attacked Beirut's electrical power plant. The mission was to hit only specific sections of the plant, plunging parts of Beirut into darkness, in retaliation for the Katyushas which had caused a power outage in Kiryat Shmonah the previous day. This was the first time since 'Peace for the Galilee' that the IAF operated in Beirut.

Israeli Pay-Loads
Short Range Air-to-Air Missile
Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile

Stand-Off Precision Strike Missile
Popeye Lite (Have Lite)
Air-to-Surface Stand-Off Missile

Stand-Off Precision Guidance Munition (PGM) Kit

Stand-Off Tactical Air Launched Turbojet-Powered Decoy
Modular Stand-OFF Vehicle

Day/Night Navigation and Targeting Pod


Litening is a combat-proven multi-spectral airborne targeting and navigation pod.  It is designed for navigation and target illumination to improve day and night attack capabilities.  Litening presents pilots with real-time, Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) and Charge Coupled Device (CCD) imagery.  The high sensor resolution enables pilots to reliably identify the combat objects and consequently to avoid collateral damage.  It is fully operational 24 hours a day and in adverse weather conditions.

The sensors are incorporated in a single pod and provide the fighter aircrew with the flexibility to perform multiple missions/tasks including:

  • Laser spot detection enabling co-operative missions with target hand-over
  • Laser marking for co-operative missions with Night Vision Goggles (NVG)
  • Performance of low level night flights (navigation)
  • EO Point and Area Tracker & Inertial Tracker
  • Identification of aerial targets from Beyond Visual (BV) ranges
  • Detection/Recognition/Identification/Laser designation of surface targets
  • Accurate delivery of laser guided bombs; GPS guided munitions, cluster and general purpose bombs and reliable damage assessment
  • Integration capability to all Aircraft
Day/Night Electro-Optical Reconnaissance Pod


The RecceLite is a self-contained self-cooled multi-sensor tactical reconnaissance system, consisting of an airborne pod based on the Litening Targeting and Navigation Pod and a ground exploitation station.

The RecceLite simultaneously collects Infra-Red (IR) and Visual (VIS and near IR) digital images within a very wide field of regard, in accordance with an automatic mission plan and/or manual operation. The images and the data annotation are recorded on a solid state recorder and transmitted to the exploitation station via the RecceLite data link. The Images are then interpreted at the ground exploitation station.

The concept comprises a single pod system, with a single sensors payload having sensors in both IR (infrared) and VIS (visual and near infrared) wavebands, having three fields of view (FOV) in IR and four in VIS, and the capability to direct the line of sight of all sensors towards any direction in space (excluding aircraft obscurations).

The sensors are using large two-dimensional focal plane arrays (FPA) mounted on a 4-axis gimbals system, and images are captured by scanning with the gimbals, and taking snapshots of the targets area. The line of sight is accurately directed towards the targets area using an onboard inertial navigation system (INS), and motion compensation in all directions is achieved by locking the sensors line of sight on the region of interest (ROI) while capturing images. Motion compensation is using advanced inertial tracking and digital elevation maps (DEM) embedded in the pod.

Primary Role
Multi-role fighter


Wingspan - 9.45 m
Length - 15.03 m
Height - 5.09 m,
Wing area - 27.87 sq. m
Maximum speed - over Mach 2, Ceiling - over 15 km
Empty - 7,364 kg, Max. loaded - 16,057 kg
Power Plant
Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 engine with 6,654 kg. thrust

Vulcan 6-barrel 20 mm. cannon with 515 rounds; air-to-air missiles and Iron/guided bombs.