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After culminating seven confirmed dogfight victories, the Israeli Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon No. 107 will be retired. After its 35 year career, the F-16 “Netz” will go on display at Hatzerim Air Base in Negev. The No. 107 F-16 has been in service since it was delivered to Israel’s Ramat David Air Base on June 18, 1980. In 1995 the aircraft starting serving Israel as a training aircraft for flight cadets and was finally retired at the end of 2014.
The F-16s have been in service since the early 1970’s and were manufactured by General Dynamics, now Lockheed Martin. The Block 5 and Block 10 F-16A/Bs were originally destined for Iran who, at the time, was an ally of the United States. But the deal was cancelled after the Ayatollah’s rise to power. Under the Camp David agreement with Egypt, Israel was given the opportunity to acquire a 75-strong fleet of fighter aircraft at a bargain price. Upon delivery of the F-16, the IAF gained the ability to preemptively strike the heart of Iraq’s nuclear program. The French-built Osiris reactor was located almost 1,000 miles away from Israeli borders. Because of the F-16’s capabilities, the mission was deemed “worth the risk.” The historic raid on the Osiris reactor commenced on June 7th, 1981, and was code named Operation Opera. It is considered one of the most daring demonstrations of air power in history. Former Military Intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin was No. 2 in the formation following Ze’ev Raz who led the strike.
On April 21, 1982 No. 107 began its history of successful missions. Its first air-to-air kill was confirmed after downing a Syrian MiG-23 jet with a rocket fired by Colonel Ze’ev Raz. The next confirmed kill was on June 9, 1982 by Israeli Air Force Commander Eliezer Shakedi. On that day, two Syrian MiG-23 planes were shot down. June 11, 1982 was a historical day for the No. 107 F-16 when it shot down two more MiG-23 Syrian jets—a Soviet Sukhoi Su-17 and an Aerospatiale Gazelle helicopter. The kills were made by Colonel Eitan Sativa.
Close to 300 F-16s of different variants are in service with the IAF—ranging from the original F-16A/Bs “Netz,” to the night attack capable F-16C/D “Barak,” to the F-16I “Sufa,” one of the most advanced F-16s and one of the most capable fighters in the world. Since the first flight of the F-16 in 1974, Lockheed Martin has continued leading the design and development of the Fighting Falcon. Critical structural and avionics upgrades have been provided to ensure the aircraft remains relevant for many years. 138 different configurations have been designed in more than four decades. To date more than 4,500 F-16s have been produced and upgrade programs have been developed for 11 countries.
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