Israel’s Defense Ministry has sent four additional F-16 fighter jets to the United States to be used as aggressor forces with the Canadian Top Aces company.
The planes and equipment were loaded onto an Antonov cargo plane that landed at Ben-Gurion Airport. The delivery completes the shipment of 12 fighter planes that were sent to the US in three different shipments.The remaining 17 will be delivered later this year and will be used by the company for training purposes for the US Air Force.
A total of 29 F-16s were bought by the Montreal-based Top Aces in a deal with the Defense Ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate. Top Aces buys older aircraft to act as enemy forces and provides training services for the Australian, Royal Canadian, US and German air forces.
The planes sold to Top Aces were first delivered to Israel in the 1980s and took part in the First Lebanon War and air battles against the Syrian Air Force. They also took part in Operation Opera in 1981 that successfully destroyed Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq.
After arriving in the US, the F-16s underwent an overhaul to return to full operational and airworthy status.
According to Aviation International News, Top Aces received its FAA certification for the F16s to act as aggressor forces in May and began to test the jets in January with new capabilities that would give fifth-generation fighters “a more realistic sparring partner” for dog-fighting and other training.
The first flight of the F-16 equipped with the Advanced Aggressor Mission System took place on January 19, the report said. The air-to-air missile system (AAMS) comprises an active, electronically-scanned array radar, helmet-mounted cueing system, technical datalink, infrared search and track system, simulation of weapons systems, electronic warfare and more.
“When you combine the power and avionics of the F-16 with the AAMS, it provides the most realistic and cost-effective training solution available to pilots flying fifth-generation fighters, such as the F-22 or F-35”, said Top Aces president Russ Quinn, a 26-year USAF veteran and former Aggressor pilot with more than 3,300 F-16 flight hours.