All of the Israel Air Force’s F-16 fighter jets have returned to service, following improvements resolving a technical problem that had kept many of the planes grounded in recent months.
Roughly three months ago, two F-16 fighter jets were grounded at the Ramat David airbase following malfunctions in their engines. A thorough investigation revealed the source of the malfunctions: Pieces of the coating of the air intake inlets had peeled off due to heat and damaged the engines. Following the discovery, the majority of the IAF’s F-16s were grounded from training exercises, although they remained on standby alert.
Within a day of learning of the defect, squadron mechanics began repairing the grounded aircrafts. Crews worked around the clock in order to ensure that the planes returned to the skies as quickly as possible. The old coatings were completely stripped down and removed in order to ensure that the engines functioned flawlessly. After extensive testing, the planes were reassembled with a new and more durable coating.
“The challenge was to complete the process as quickly as possible so as many airplanes were available for training as possible,” said Maj. Shlomi Palanitski, a commander within the Air Force. “Airbases have coped with the crisis by continuing their training as best they could. We focused on doing everything in the safest way possible.”
As of now, all of the F-16s have returned to the skies with full operational capability, including strikes, sorties, training flights, and air-to-air simulations.