Warplanes: July 16, 2004


Israel began receiving its new F-16I aircraft last February. Two a month will arrive until 102 are delivered. The F-16I is a 24 ton, two seat fighter-bomber, and is probably the most capable F-16 model in service. Costing $45 million each, the F-16I has an excellent navigation system which allows it to fly on the deck (a few hundred feet from the ground), without working the pilot to death. The aircraft can do this at night or in any weather. The F-16I can carry enough fuel to hit targets 1,600 kilometers away (meaning Iran is within range). The aircraft uses the latest short and long range air-to-air missiles, as well as smart bombs. Electronic countermeasures are carried, as is a powerful computer system, which records the details of each sortie in great detail. This is a big help for training. The F-16I is basically optimized to deliver smart bombs anywhere, despite dense air defenses. This further increases Israels military power versus its neighbors. Israels relative military power has been increasing steadily since the end of the Cold War in 1991. Russias Middle Eastern clients no longer had a source of inexpensive, high tech weapons. Now, with Iraqs military threat completely gone, and Syrias and Irans not going anywhere, only Egypt remains a credible threat. Egypt receives warplanes and tanks from the United States. But Egypts F-16s are older models, and only the Egyptian M-1 tanks give it some bit of parity against the Israeli ground forces. However, Egypt only has 550 M-1s, versus 1,200 Israeli Merkava (an Israeli made tank in the same class as the M-1).


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