On Monday the Israel Air Force retired the last of its F-16 "Netz” (Hawk) aircraft, used in the “Flying Dragon” force – aka “Red Squadron” – based at the IAF's Uvda base in southern Israel. The plane, which flew for years in operational missions and was later used for teaching combat pilots in advanced stages of training, has been grounded after 36 years of activity.
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According to IAF statistics, the F-16A/B fighter plane, delivered to Israel in 1980, chalked up some 335,000 flight hours and participated in 13,000 operational sorties. Among other things, it participated in the attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.
IAF Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Eshel said in the past that “the Netz will go down in history as the aircraft that changed the face of the Middle East.”
The planes were originally designated for the air force in Iran, but the United States offered them to Israel after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in that country.
Israel's Defense Ministry has announced that it will try to sell the aircraft to foreign forces. Specifically, the ministry’s Defense Aid Branch has advertised that 40 such planes are up for sale, noting that in the IAF they served in a variety of missions and are “especially recommended for attack forces.”
Israel is also selling another seven Hercules C-130 planes, seven Hawk fighter-interceptor systems, 40 Skyhawk Eagles and eight Cobra helicopters.
Records show that in recent years, some four Skyhawks have been sold and there has been an increase in the number of Hercules planes being offered for sale by Israel.