19 years have passed since the “Barak” (Hebrew for Lightning) landed in Israel and changed the IAF’s Combat Divisions forever. Almost three decades later, the “Barak” rules the skies, consists of the largest order of power in the Jet Fighter Division and it seems that it is here to stay

Zohar Boneh & Nadav Shaham | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

On a chilly February morning in 1987, the first “Lightning” storm of its kind took place in Israeli Skies. This time, the usual flashes of light were replaced by fire and heat exiting the first F-16C/D “Barak” to arrive in Israel. 29 years have passed and very similar “Lightning” storms have illuminated Israel’s skies ever since, with the “Barak” still being one of the IAF’s central Jet Fighters.

The “Barak” Jet Division is the largest in the IAF, with five Combat Squadrons which operate it and are deployed all over the country. The IAF has single seated and two seated “Barak” jets in which pilots and WSOs can fly together.

Lightning in the Sky: 29 Years of the “Barak” F-16C/D

A “Barak” from The “Valley” Squadron | Archive Photo

The “Barak’s” Greatest Moments
The first three jets landed in Israel on February 9, 1987, flown by American pilots. They landed in an IAF Airbase in northern Israel and received the Hebrew name “Barak” (Lightning). They are equipped with a powerful engine, with great static thrust, powerful radar, an advanced cockpit with two Multi-Functional Displays and a strong structure which permits enlarged carrying capacity.

Ever since their arrival, the “Barak” fighter jets have taken a significant part in the IAF’s activity in combat in Lebanon, The Gaza Strip and in the Force’s multiple routine security operations. A well-known operation the jet is known for, took part in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. On August 7, 2006, a “Barak” jet intercepted an Iranian-made “Ababil” UAV launched by the Hezbollah terror organization. After it was discovered by the Aerial Defense Division and the Northern ATC Unit, the deployed “Barak” launched a “Panther” AAM and dropped the drone over the sea, in Lebanese territory.

Lightning in the Sky: 29 Years of the “Barak” F-16C/D

A “Barak” from The “First Fighter” Squadron | Archive Photo

“Barak” 2020
Being that 29 isn’t a young age for jet fighters, the “Barak” jets have over gone a “face-lift” during the past few years – an improvement and life extending process with the goal of continuing their operational activity In the IAF until 2020 at least.

Currently, the Material Directorate’s engineers are designing the next “renovation”, which is expected to be executed by the end of 2017 and which will extend the jet’s life till 2030 at least, which means that we will have the privilege of celebrating at least 14 more of its birthdays.

Lightning in the Sky: 29 Years of the “Barak” F-16C/D

Former IAF Commander Maj. Gen. (Res.) Aharon Lapidot, in the “Barak” landing ceremony | IAF Magazine Archive Photo