F-16 engines stolen from Israeli base

For a second year, American-built fighter jet engines have been stolen from an Israeli air base.

Reports out of Israel on Thursday say that several F-16 engines have been stolen from a base in a central part of the country. Israel Defense Forces officials suspect the engines were stolen with inside help, though by whom and for what purpose they do not know.

The IDF speculates the engines may have been stolen to be sold for scrap.

In June 2011, the IDF reported the loss of eight F-15 and F-16 fighter engines from a base at Tel Nof near Jerusalem. Officials played down the loss saying the engines were old or retired and likely stolen for scrap.

But U.S. security and aviation experts contacted by Military.com at the time were not so dismissive of the missing engines. They said that some countries would see value in having them and taking them apart.

Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis with Teal Group, a Washington, D.C. defense industry research corporation, noted then that modern technology engine design remains “a black art” and that competitors would love the opportunity to study them.

“They’re still more modern than anything in the Iranian air force inventory, and they would even be helpful to China in their jet engine development,” Aboulafia said at the time.

The engines would each weigh more than 3,700 pounds.

John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, an Alexandria, Va., defense and intelligence think tank, said at the time that even old F-15 and F-16 engines were “better than anything the communist Chinese have.”

The engines, which could be Pratt & Whitney or GE, have “superior” thrust-to-weight ratio and better fuel consumption than anything in the Chinese air force, he said.

Pentagon officials last year offered no comment on the thefts but referred questions to the Israelis. The Pentagon’s response to the latest thefts was the same.

“This is something you’ll want to most likely talk to the Israelis about. Obviously we have had a longstanding relationship with the Israelis and we’ll continue to,” said a Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Jack Miller.

The public affairs office of the Israeli embassy in Washington referred Military.com’s questions to officials in Jerusalem.

History has shown it’s not impossible to steal jet engines.

In two cases, investigative officials found the thieves had inside help.

In 2009, two F-5 engines were stolen from an airbase in Malaysia, tracked to Argentina and ultimately located in Uruguay. A Malaysian air force sergeant was charged along with a businessman with stealing the engines.

In 1989, two U.S. Air Force security policemen were charged in connection with the theft of three F-16 engines from Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Those engines were recovered.

About the Author

Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is a reporter for Military.com. He can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BryantJordan.
  • whoaa

    There building a MOTHER SHIP!

  • Chops

    Hard to believe someone can just drive off with 4000lb engines and not get caught by Isreali security.Maybe we should make them [ IAF ] fly to a middle-east US base for maintenance, that way they won’t keep losing US technology.

    • WPG

      This isn’t the first time the Israeli’s have sold or lost american tech for their own gain its a joke!

      • Lee

        They talk about Israeli security being the best in the world at their airports, and then we hear about this at one of their bases? This leaves me to believe that their secuity is no better than ours, and we know that our is no better that it was before 9/11, because people are getting through all of the time.

    • George_Babbitt

      Maybe we just stop giving the ‘Israelis’ any US technology, that would solve many more problems than just this one.

  • BlackOwl18E

    Probably Chinese looking for more engines to copy…

    • there’s no doubt that that is exactly what happened.

      although it is kind of ironic to hear this after the whole Palestine thing.

    • NeoconBrony

      Don’t be ridiculous, they don’t have the know how to copy it, they’re just going to build the stolen engine directly into one of their new stealth fighters.

      • Juuso

        So Chinese have knowledge to copy F-35 and F-22, but now they can’t copy engine? It seems that Chinese are good boogeyman to blame when something goes wrong.

        • William_C1

          I believe he was joking. But the Chinese have had a lot of trouble with their own fighter engine development, even though it is largely based off Russian technology. Hence why most of their aircraft are using actual Russian engines like the AL-31 as opposed to their own WS-10 which on paper is a comparable design.

          Of course they’d be very eager to get their hands on modern Western after-burning turbofans even if they can’t manage to produce copies (yet), it would still further their own programs.

        • NeoconBrony

          Or do they have the knowledge to copy the F-35 and F-22?

    • Mike

      China already has a F-16 with it’s engine, (F-100), when Pakastan had a fighter pilot defect to China with one.

    • PolicyWonk

      It wouldn’t be the first time Israel sold US technologies to a 3rd party. So much for “trusted friend and ally…”.

      • Papi1960R

        Thats what Israelis have been questioning about the USA for over a decade.

        • DrMeatwadPhD

          You mean they do not trust the ones they constantly beg from and back stab over and over again? I hope that paranoia self mutilates before they kill a lot more innocent gentiles.

    • cloyce

      China is already running the production of WS-10A engines which fits on their J-11B.

    • Mat

      Chinese have access to F16 fighters not just engines any time they want in Pakistan.

  • Lance

    Seem IAF’s APs needs to be more aggressive and check more out going trucks LOL!

  • William_C1

    How does one drive off with an F100 or F110 engine with nobody at the gate stopping him? “These aren’t the engines you are looking for.”

    • Thunder350

      Inside job/government or military approval.

    • Victorinox

      LOL Best comment of the year!

    • Noha307

      To quote a highly qualified sergeant of the guard: “I know nothing. NOTHING!”

  • wutwut

    Are they being stolen or secretly sold off by the Israeli’s? I think the latter is more likely IMO…

    • Jacob

      What would the Israelis have to gain by selling our engines to China? Actually wait no, don’t answer that…

      • Gareth Smith

        Probably sold them to Iran, history repeating itself.

    • joe

      heresy. Our best buddies israel would never sell stuff to the chinese like patriot missile technology, the lavi jet, etc.

      • Papi1960R

        Joe, the Lavi was theirs. We told them if they stopped developement we would give them even sweeter deals on ALL American aircraft, just like Israel planned from the get go. The Lavi was just fish bait and we were the fish. Who the sold it to was their business. With the re-election of the Masiah, most Israelis feel they do not have an ally in the USA.

        • DrMeatwadPhD

          Get lost papi.

        • cya4555

          The lavi was there’s? It was made with American technology and American money.

  • Panda

    Seems unlikely that someone would break into an air base to try and steal scrap. Especially given that they’d need serious machinery to do it. If they did have those kinds of vehicles why wouldn’t they just steal something easy instead of risking getting shot?

  • blight_

    Sure, the flatbed eighteen wheeler goes up to base, picks up engines and rolls out undetected? Yeech.

  • Guest

    99.9% sure they’re going to China. Recall incident in early 2000s, a businessman from Taiwan was caught with a “shopping list” from Chinese gov. They were specifically looking for F16 engines, Mk48s, SINCGARS, etc. He was “recruited” through family members on the mainland.

  • redneck engineer

    hopefully they are the PW ones not GE, It would be helpfull to us if they copy the PW ones

  • dubweiser101

    Funny how Mossad and other Israeli intelligence services can pinpoint the exact location of a terrorist plotting terror before terror is even committed, but can’t secure a 20 foot long stolen jet engine…

    • Steve

      they could be using them to track whoever stole the first batch

  • bill

    According to a Israeli news article parts of engines were stolen not the whole engines. “Several parts of engines belonging to F-16 fighters jets have been stolen from an airbase in central Israel” http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=2949
    I don’t think it would be that difficult for someone who works in the base to leave with engine parts. I’m sure the guy at the front gate is used to seeing tons of plane parts coming in and out of a major air force base.

  • stephen russell

    who, & why & whose orders to steal engines?

  • Brad

    either sold of to China or Russia or incorporated into one or both of the 2 stealth drones Israel is developing.

    • XYZ

      It isn’t stealing if you’re giving it to yourself… Although I think I see your point.

    • cyberscriber2world

      Our new drone, the one approved for operation with the USN for NATO joint operations, has a PW-F-100 Jet Engine.

  • Marcellus Hambrick
  • Nicky

    Can someone explain to me how the HELL do you make off with an F-16 Engine. Some cop had to have seen something strange when someone was driving a truck with an jet engine on it.

    • John

      They sit on it, and tun it on.

  • PTPLauthor

    Okay, before we send then any more engines, the US Congress needs to call the Israelis into a session of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and they need to provide answers as to how in the blue hell whole engines went missing from their bases?

    • Chops

      Yes-and as sure as God made little green apples,the Isrealis are going to tell the truth——GET REAL.

      • PTPLauthor

        Well, then since little green apples are a product of EVOLUTION, the Israelis will probably tel the truth if we threaten to cut off their stream of Viper and Eagle motors without answers.

        • joe

          greater chance of them apologizing for deir yassin

    • Wulf145

      Get real, the only thing that the US Congress would end up doing is paying for the IAFs Base security.
      Believe me asking the US Congress to do anything to do with Israel will cost the US Taxpayer dearly.

    • cya4555

      Better chance of the congress apologizing to the isrealys.

    • Steve

      not going to work
      and besides the israeli have a problem ,they try to incorporate minority groups into the army (to let them feel they belong)
      this are mostly arabs and druze (i think thats how you write it)
      who usually hold more loyalty to their family and religion than the israeli army
      they usually serve as cooks or something (thats what i understand from a friend of myn that served in the israeli army – met him in training)
      whenever there are thefts on the base he says they usually find the stolen weapons/ammo etc’ in one of the villages in the area
      and yes they also do alot of scrap metal sales
      as far as i understand from him there are gangs of illeagals in israel who steel metal to sell them for scrap ,they sell traffic lights ,street lamps and anything metal they can get their hands on ,
      HOW they got to the engines (if at all) is alarming however it is possible

      • PTPLauthor

        We’re talking an object that’s over five yards long and weighs in at over two tons, not a couple of Galils or some old hunks of scrapmetal, you don’t sneak these out in the trunk of your car. What I want to know, and what Congress should DEMAND to know is why the hell was security so lax at an airbase that someone was able to get one of these off base without notice?

  • Chimp

    I wonder if a few pots of HAVE GLASS coatings weren’t part of the deal. That just about complete’s China’s shopping list… they nearly have the whole ball of wax now.

  • Michael

    Syrian Al-Qaeda got Chemical weapons now:

  • kim lockwood

    no ability to see humour cmon that was funny….was the word mossad the killer

  • kim lockwood

    okay ….mossad are looking for stolen plane parts in local papers …under scrap metal for sale ……lol

  • kim lockwood

    oops and one of their nukes is missing……………

    • xboss

      What nukes

  • kim lockwood

    for sale …one slightly used f 16 engine ….only used on weekends …has service history please call 555china copy…..may swap for other items

  • Bruce Parker

    What if the current Regime in Washington had a part in this to Discredit the ISRAELIS and their Security with sensitive US Technology with the Goal of preventing any further shipments To ISRAEL at a time when our president is Giving F-16’s and M-1A1 Tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt! Face the facts, our president is Muslim and Sides with the Muslims! He is Anti ISRAEL!

    • Juuso

      Regime? If I remember correctly Obama was won elections. You should read more about Israeli-China relations before claiming that this is some sort of plot made up by “Obama regime”… just a hint.

      Certainly not a first time when Israeli accused of selling american technology to China.

    • John

      You are an idiot

  • Chase Messer

    Ohhh great…

  • Aren’t the Israelis buying the F35 too? I’m sure the Americans will be pleased when bits of those start walking out of airbases.

  • tiger

    A jet engine? Several of them? Was Mr. Magoo on Gate guard duty? NAvy & Army tied 10-10 in the 3rd by the way.

  • skepticalone


  • Stealth

    Seems to me like Israel is making a secret fighter to attack Iran, but I like the China thing better.

    • blight_

      Old F-16 engines may not be the best place to start for a “secret fighter”.

      Maybe Israel needs what used to be called a light bomber, or a medium bomber. Need legs to Fordo and back.

  • sam

    who ever stole those had a really really big pare of pants to stuff them in

  • Tad

    The article mentions the attempted theft of three F-16 engines at Hill AFB in Utah back in 1989. I just googled a NYT article from 1989 that said they were planning to sell the engines within the US and that the recipients likely were not foreign powers. That seems odd. Is it possible that these incidents supply a black market that does not consist of adversary nation states? That doesn’t sound right to me, but what do I know.

    • blight_

      Lies were okay back then.

      • Tad

        Ha! Nailed it, Blight.

  • Smokey

    Somebody’s sneaking it out in their lunchbox, one piece at a time

    • Dan

      Sure, Johnny Cash did a song about that…. I got me a Block 10,20,32,40,52,60 Falcon….and it didn’t cost me a dime

  • gonger

    I find it interesting that everyone is piling onto Israel for this while ignoring the sale of tanks and (guess what?) F-16s to the Egyptians, weapons they would need solely for invading Israel.

    • blight_

      We’re sellin’ em to Iraq too, and the Saudis.

      The Egyptians have *production* of Abrams, not just Abrams themselves. I don’t know if it’s final assembly of kits, or if they have a logistics chain that sends raw materials to a plant and pops out Abrams.

      That said, the Egyptian one is an export version of the M1A1. It’s short DU (has the 120mm gun) and digital doodads. That said, the Iraqi version is stated as M1A1M and the Moroccans have an M1A1SA, whatever those mean.

      Kuwait and the Saudis have versions based on the M1A2-presumably without DU again.

      • gonger

        Part of the reason we did not back up Mubarak is because he was in essence a dictator. If that suddenly has become a concern to us, then why are we continuing to supply weapons to Morsi?

        • blight_

          If we were concerned about arming dictators, we would lose the entire Middle East as an export market.

  • Roger Lindsey

    Maybe some one is doing what Jonny Cash did in his song. When he was takeing parts from GM in his lunch box to build his 55,56,57 Caddy.

  • Muttling

    This is comical, they had engines stolen from this base TWICE in 2 years. They must be contracting their security out to WSI Oak Ridge (Google Y-12 security breach if you don’t get the joke.)

    On a more serious side, Russia and China would have no interest in these engines. The F-16 is one of the most widely exported fighter aircraft in the world, they obtained some them for reverse engineering many years ago.

  • yesjb

    I suggest that you might want to wait til more facts are available rather than relying on biased speculation.

  • marc27

    engines worth millions of dollars taken to be sold as scrap? how much sense does that make to you? cuz to me it doesnt.

  • Papi1960R

    The Chinese have no problem with designing Jet motors of all types. What they do have is problems with Production processes,Materials engineering and Metallurgy. With the advanced Israeli aerospace industry Cases, cores, blades, et al could easily be broken down, tested and analyzed and the results transfered to China without stealing motors or letting the public know. Lots of hysterical anti-semites showing their true colors on this thread.

    • blight_

      There are probably some realpolitik people who like Israel only as long as it fights our Arab enemies. Just as we liked the Afghans as long as they fought the Soviets, then discarded them like a piece of toilet paper.

  • SmithW

    …much later at Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Nevada: “I’d like to sell you this engine…”

  • DDave

    As Johnny Cash Said – I built it one piece at a time.

  • Barry

    fool…. such rubbish can only help Chinese to get self confident.

  • roger
  • cyberscriber2world

    The Jews have better P&W F-100-200 Jet engines than the Saudi’s do. Israel makes modifications to the fuel controls and compressors that give their engines more power than the engines sold to the Arabs. The Arabs won’t recognize the Jewish state, but I wouldn’t put it past them to steal their engines or technology. The General Electric engines are junk, and should be sold for scrap metal.

  • John

    More than likely, the Israeli’s sold them to China at 100 times the cost we charged them. Did we charge them? I would like to see Israel’s shopping cart and see what they paid if anything.

  • TonyC

    The engines are probably on their way to Taiwan for transfer to the mainland.
    The Chinese will copy them and get a big boost to their aviation industry.
    The only problem they will encounter is the DECU and how to program it.
    Then there is the mach ramp control issue and the angle of attack computations.
    The engine they stole will probably not have a DECU. It will be interesting to see
    if a new Chinese jet engine is introduced over the next year?

    • yesjb

      I think that with all the mods on the engines, they were probably stolen by someone in the DOD in cahoots with P&W or GE for their own production line. :-)

  • ltfunk4

    What people ave to remember is that no matter how many engines the Israleis steal, its nothing compared to the holocaust.

    • Guest

      The usual Israeli shit. We can do what we like and you can’t complain because of the Holocaust. Well of course it was wrong but you can’t hide behind that forever and anyway they weren’t the only people to suffer askRussians and. Gypsys.

  • L.M.Martinez,AF/Ret


  • StarchBishop

    Wher are you, Sgt. Bilko?

  • Connor W

    Nice Johnny Cash reference

  • maremure

    GPS anyone??? One little tracking device and viola…

  • PiercingArrowz

    Only one possible reason for stealing them. Podracer.

  • PaperDragon

    China trying to secure modest 25 year old engine technology for their “stealth” fighters. Allies with the US? Give me a break. What do you expect from people who would sell out the son of God.

    • yesjb

      Your racist bigoted comment should never have seen the light of day!
      But then again, you might have more luck with the Egyptians, Iraqi’s Afgahni’s and Iranians.
      I hope you have your new prayer rug! Good luck!

  • N712

    WTF!!! SECOND YEAR! Last years investigators should be sacked and replaced with somebody that can find the thieves–why has this been allowed?

  • SemperTi

    An Israeli would sell you the rope to hang him with let alone a jet engine

  • NativeOne

    China doesnt have the need for pratt and whitneys. And Israel isnt in cahoots with them either. China has over 20 thousand of their version of fighterjets that I’m sure have engines in. Now they may have stolen the blue prints for those jets, but why steal something that wont even fit in their own design

  • Jerry

    Being used by Santa Claus.

  • Kim

    The Izzy’s have a long history of selling weapons and technology to China, Iran and others at least back in the 1970’s. The US government knows it but our Administrations are too afraid of the Jewish lobbies (AIPAC) to protect our security. So the Izzy’s will continue to poke us in the eye with these actions as well as settlements, Gaza, Etc …….until we are really hurt….

  • Jack

    Why would it be hard to steal an engine if you have inside help? Put it on a truck, add forged paperwork and you are out the gate. No conspiracy here, move along.

  • Steve

    israeli mossad is one of the best intelligence agencies out there ,it occured to me they might be doing it on purpose to follow some sort of weapons trail, i’ve seen stuff like that before
    letting a criminal think he got away with something when infact he is being tailed all the way
    and whatever he stole was fake or disabled (depending on the situation)

  • vburd

    they went to walmart for a low low discount price.


    How can one of the most security minded nations in the world let this happen ? Sold for scrap I dont think so not unless they are totaly shot,Stolen by themselves so to blame the Iranians ? False Flag Event ? more likely to authorise a strike on the Nuclear plants ? after all just anybody can’t join the nuclear club can they you need to be level headed not paranoid,not able to rush in to things like wars eh!
    Now who am I thinking of cant’t put my finger on them but I am sure somebody is going to before long,who knows I could be wrong and common sence will prevail.
    Was not 6million plus enough deaths in WWII,stop all this madness just take a step back and think, once you light the touch paper anything can happen.

  • JokeOfTheDay

    hahahaha… suckrers….. :P :D