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 an associate editor and White House correspondent for Military.com. Bryant covers all corners of the military arena, is an expert on "Don't Ask Don't Tell" issues, religious proselytizing and other ongoing military policy issues. He has covered Air Force support missions during the Kosovo War and in 2006 the aero-medical evacuation mission out of Balad Air Base, Iraq. A journalist since 1979, Jordan also covered stories in Lebanon, Gaza and Morocco. During the Vietnam War he was assigned to 15th Admin. Co., 1st Cavalry Division, Bien Hoa Army Base. Before joining Military.com Jordan was a staff writer and deputy news editor for Military Timesnewspapers in Springfield, Va.

63 Comments on "F-16 engines stolen from Israeli base"

  1. There building a MOTHER SHIP!

  2. 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.

  3. Probably Chinese looking for more engines to copy…

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

  5. 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."

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

  7. 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?

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

  9. 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.

  10. redneck engineer | December 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Reply

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

  11. 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…

  12. 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.

  13. stephen russell | December 7, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply

    who, & why & whose orders to steal engines?

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

  15. Marcellus Hambrick | December 7, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. Syrian Al-Qaeda got Chemical weapons now:

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

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

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

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

  24. 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!

  25. Ohhh great…

  26. 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.

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

  28. "missing"

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

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

  31. 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.

  32. Somebody's sneaking it out in their lunchbox, one piece at a time

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

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

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

  38. 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.

  39. …much later at Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Nevada: "I'd like to sell you this engine…"

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

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

  42. cyberscriber2world | December 10, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply

    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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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?

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

  46. L.M.Martinez,AF/Ret | December 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Reply


  47. Wher are you, Sgt. Bilko?

  48. Nice Johnny Cash reference

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

  50. PiercingArrowz | December 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply

    Only one possible reason for stealing them. Podracer.

  51. 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.

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

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

  54. 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

  55. Being used by Santa Claus.

  56. 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….

  57. 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.

  58. 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)

  59. they went to walmart for a low low discount price.

  60. 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.

  61. hahahaha… suckrers….. :P :D

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