Intelligence: Iran Gets An F-16

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June 28, 2012:  Iran has apparently received an American F-16 fighter from Venezuela. The mercurial and anti-American president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has, for the last six years, been threatening to sell some of his F-16s to Iran. Finally sending one to Iran was apparently an effort to help Iran prepare its defenses against an air raid by Israeli F-16Is. This Venezuelan gesture is not likely to help much as the Venezuelan F-16s are much older models while the current Israeli F-16s are the most modern model available.

The Venezuelan F-16s were received in 1983 and 1984. They are F-16A/B Block 15. F-16s currently in service with the US Air Force are F-16C/D Block 50s, with the even more advanced F-16E/F Block 60 being built for the UAE. The Venezuelan F-16s in question are over 25 years old. For the F-16, that is very old indeed. These aircraft are not equipped with the latest radars, air-to-air missiles, or jammers. And, in the 13 years since Chavez took power, they have not been getting much in the way of logistics thanks to the freeze in relations with the United States. Upsetting the country which makes the spare parts for your combat aircraft is not a good idea.

The Israeli F-16I 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-68(X)) 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 hundred meters above 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 Israeli military power versus its neighbors. Israel has received 102 new F-16I fighter-bombers in the last eight years and upgraded another 125 older F-16s to the F-16I standard.

 

 


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