All but seven of Israel's 63 F-16I
fighters have been returned to service. About five weeks ago, Israel has halted
training flights of its new F-16I fighters because formaldehyde was leaking
into the cockpit and making pilots nauseous.
can also cause cancer after prolonged exposure. Israel demanded that the U.S.
manufacturer of the F16 find and fix the problem. That turned out to be
difficult. There have been no other incidents like this, and over 4,000 F-16s
are in use by 24 countries. The investigation is continuing. The problem may
lie in modifications Israel made to the
aircraft. That is being investigated as well, and the formaldehyde is probably
from some new component. Formaldehyde is often a component of the "new car
smell." Pilots also received cancer screening.
last five weeks, the aircraft were held ready for combat operations, just more
numerous training flights were halted. The training flights are essential to
maintain the superiority of Israeli pilots. The F-16I is the most capable
versions of the F-16. Israel has been receiving two new F-16I fighter-bombers a
month since early 2004, and will eventually receive 102 of them. Added to this
will be another 125, as older F-16s are upgraded. This will take three or four
years, at least.
is a 24 ton, two seat fighter-bomber, and is probably the most capable F-16
model in service. It's basically a modified version of the F-16C/D Block 50/52,
equipped with a more advanced radar (the APG-68X) and the ability to carry
Israeli weapons like the Python 4 air-to-air missile and the Popeye 2
air-to-surface missile. 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