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International Science Times December 10, 2012

F-16 Engines Stolen From Israel Defense Forces; An Inside Job?

By Danny Choy

According to the Israel Defense Forces, a total of eight F-16 fighter jet engines were recently stolen from an Israel Air Force Base.

A very serious and very high profile crime, officials of the Israel Defense Force are concerned about the manner in which the crimes were conducted. Given that the elaborate heist involved the transport of eight Pratt & Whitney military engines, which weigh nearly 30,000 pounds in total (3,740 lb. each), Defense Force officials fear the crime is likely an inside job.

The engines seem to have been stolen over the span of a couple days but investigative officials have yet to find any sign of a breach. What's more disturbing, the specific motive of the military heist is unclear.

According to Defense Tech, the latest incident wasn't the first. For a second year, American fighter engines have been stolen from an Israeli base. During June 2011, eight F-15 and F-16 engines were missing from Tel Nof near Jerusalem.

On one hand, the Israel Defense Forces believe the F-16 engines will likely be sold for scraps as they belong to an older generation of jet technology and are on the tail end of their service life. However, engineers stress otherwise. According to Richard Aboulafia, the vice president of defense industry research corporation Teal Group, the intricacies of a fighter jet engine still remains a "black art" among competitors from other nations.

Aboulafia said, "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."

Director of defense and intelligence think tank GlobalSecurity.org, John Pike, also adds that an old F-16 engine is still "better than anything the communist Chinese have."

How will the second incident of jet engine theft in two years affect the international relationship between the United states and Israel? Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jack Miller says, "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."

The Israel Defense Forces has yet to reveal any leads on the investigation.

Copyright 2012, iScience Times