Israeli Air Force retires F-16A/B Netz

Israeli Air Force retires F-16A/B Netz
Photo credits: Yuval Tebol

The Israeli Air Force retired its F-16A/B “Netz” jets on Monday morning during a ceremony that took place at Ovda Airbase in southern Israel.

The F-16 “Netz” has recorded 36 years of operational activity with the Israeli Air Force.

“Moments ago, the ‘Netz’ landed from its last flight after 36 years of flight”, said Col. Itamar, Ovda Airbase Commander. “Today, we say goodbye to an incredible aircraft that seems to have been created by an artist, an aircraft that fits its missions like a glove”.

“Today, we sign the last chapter of the ‘Netz’ aircraft in the IAF”, added Lt. Col. Udi, the “Flying Dragon” Squadron Commander that has been flying the aircraft in its final years. “Only those who have touched the aircraft, only those who have been touched by the aircraft, know that the ‘Netz’ is not just an object – it has a soul”.

The F-16A/Bs were introduced into IAF service in 1980, and scored their first combat kill on a Syrian Mi-8 helicopter in April 1981.

The “Netz” has conducted countless missions and taken part in many operations; the 2006 Second Lebanon War, 1996 Operation “Grapes of Wrath”, 2008 Operation “Cast Lead”, 2002 Operation “Pillar of Defense” and 2014 Operation “Protective Edge” being just part of the operations the “Netz” took part in.

During its years of activity, the aircraft has conducted 474,000 sorties and 335,000 flight hours. “In the history books, the ‘Netz’ will be written as the aircraft that changed the face of the Middle East”, stated Brig.-Gen. Amir Eshel, IAF Commander, in the ceremony.

The “Netz” has also taken part in Operation “Opera” against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.