Israel’s flood damaged F-16s return to flight

A number of Israeli Air Force (IAF) Lockheed Martin F-16C/D “Barak” multi-role fighters have been restored back to flight after they were damaged by floods at Hatzor Air Base in central Israel in January.

The IAF’s Aerial Maintenance Unit (AMU) repaired the damaged fighters, bringing them back to operational status. According to the service, aircraft which suffered low to medium damage were restored at Hatzor Air Base and severely damaged airframes were transferred to the AMU’s headquarters at Tel Nof Air Base, near Rehovot, to receive more extensive work.

Israeli F-16C 'Barak' [Israeli Air Force/Amit Agronov] #1
An Israeli F-16C (Block 40CF) "Barak" - serial 542 (c/n CJ-23) takes to the skies. IAF/Amit Agronov

Col M, commander of the IAF’s AMU, said: “Flood damages have a significant impact [on] the aircraft’s electrical and mechanical systems… Water compounds and additional mixes cause corrosion, which harms metals and leads to substantial damage. The first and main challenge was cleaning the aircraft to stop the development of corrosion in the [F-16’s] structure and additional parts.

“We conducted damage control to understand the complexity of [the] damage, as well as [to] figure out how to execute an optimal maintenance process. The AMU [specialises] in the restoration and renovation of aircraft structures. In this case, we faced a new challenge – we had to repair other parts of the aircraft and its electrical systems that were water damaged. Many soldiers worked around the clock to [finalise] the process and make the aircraft usable as fast as possible,” Col M added.

Following their restoration, the F-16s were returned to their operational unit – 101 Squadron “The First Fighter Squadron” or 105 Squadron “The Scorpion Squadron” – after completing a test flight under the IAF’s “Manat”, the service’s Flight Test Center (FTC).