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Watch the First Privately Owned F-16 Take Flight

  • The first of many F-16s that a private training company purchased is now flying over Arizona.
  • Top Aces bought 29 fighters from Israeli Air Force stocks.
  • The private company will use the planes as stand-ins for adversary fighters training Air Force pilots.

    A private military contractor recently bought more than two dozen F-16A Fighting Falcon fighter jets. Now, one of those fighters is flying, marking the the first time a privately owned F-16 has ever hit the skies.

    You love badass planes. So do we. Let’s nerd out over them together.

    The company that acquired the planes, Top Aces, has a contract to train U.S. Air Force pilots in air-to-air combat and will use the super-maneuverable F-16 to simulate Russian and Chinese jets. The inaugural private fighter, which comes from the Israeli Air Force, is a veteran of an infamous combat mission that (temporarily) shut down Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.

    Israel acquired this F-16A—known by its U.S. Air Force serial number 78-0322in the late 1970s. Known as “Netz” (“Hawk”) in Israeli Air Force service, 78-0322 was involved in Operation Opera, Israel’s air strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.

    According to The Aviationist, 78-0322 was one of eight F-16s that attacked the Osirak reactor on June 7, 1981. Israel, which suspected the reactor was designed to make weapons-grade nuclear material, attacked the reactor with 16 2,000-pound bombs, destroying the under-construction facility and setting back Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program…

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