10 years ago today, the Israeli Air Force introduced its brand new iteration of the famed F-16 fighter plane – the F-16I. Known as the ‘Sufa’ (storm) in Hebrew, the aircraft was built in the U.S. but modified for the IDF (Zahal)’s unique needs with advanced systems designed and built in Israel.
What’s so special about the F-16? After all, fleets of F-16s exist in the air forces of nearly every western military. The F-16I ‘Sufa’, however, is different. The added ‘I’ stands for Israel, because it has been heavily modified to fit the specific needs of the Israel Air Force.
To make the pilot’s job as easy and effective as possible, the F-16I has been outfitted with cutting-edge weapons system hardware, a specially constructed radar system and a unique helmet technology that allows the pilot to launch weapons at an enemy aircraft using sight systems. No wonder we nicknamed it ‘Sufa’ – that’s Hebrew for ‘storm’.
1. Preparations are underway
F16I planes from the “Bat” Squadron on Greek soil, 2012
2. Ready to board
Major D. is the first woman in the IDF (Zahal) to fly a F-16I jet.
3. Waiting to take off
4. Guidelines from the ground crew
5. Taxiing down the runway
6. Full speed ahead
7. Flying High
The F-16I Soufa ’882′ on its final approach, arriving at the Kecskemét International Air Show, Hungary, in August 2010
8. Watching over the State of Israel
Three IAF F-16I flighter planes perform a flyover of Israel, from north to south, in honor of Israel’s 63rd Independence Day.