December 6, 2012 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Israel's military police are investigating the theft of F-16 fighter plane engines from an military base in central Israel, with the military suspecting that the thieves had inside help. The F-16C/D 'Barak' jets were undergoing repairs.
F100-PW-220 Right Side on transportation trailer [Photo by Dennis Bixby]
The base commander contacted the military police after discovering the engines missing. There were no details how many engines or engine parts were stolen but the radio report said the estimated worth is the millions of dollars.
The thieves seems to have been assisted by someone within the base. Among other things, there is the fact that there was no damage to the base's perimeter fence. This leads investigators to believe that the thieves went in and out through the gates. This would have to be done with a large vehicle, since the engines weigh over 1.5 tons and are more than 15 feet long.
No suspects have been arrested yet but the most likely possibility is that the engines were stolen by Arab metal thieves, weapons dealers or terror-related agents. The theft marks a low point in its ability to secure its own bases.
In July, Bedouin metal thieves infiltrated the IDF
base at Tze'elim in the Negev and stole crates of ammunition, which the IDF insists were empty. The Bedouins entered the base on SUVs.
In May, two bullet-proof military jeeps were stolen from the Ketziot base in southern Israel
. The jeeps both carried military equipment.
In January, the theft of 1,500 tank shells from an IDF munitions base in the South was reported. Several people have been charged, and the Military Police launched an investigation against commanders and soldiers suspected of involvement in the huge theft.
In a similar incident last year, the Israeli military police conducted an investigation after parts for F-15s and F-16s belonging to an airbase near Tel Aviv were found when police searched a warehouse used by scrap metal merchants.
[Editorial note: Some sources currently state that only parts of the engine were stolen.]