The Israeli air force has grounded some of its Lockheed Martin F-16C/D "Barak" fighters after technicians discovered paint on the inner side of the type's air intake is peeling off and could potentially enter the engine. The problem was detected on aircraft operated from the service's bases in Hazor and Ramat David.

Israeli air force commander Maj Gen Amir Eshel imposed the grounding order to avoid any danger of engine problems that could result from chipped paint being ingested by an engine.

Only those F-16s which were found to be affected by the peeling paint have been grounded, with the air force's entire inventory of C/D-model aircraft to be inspected. Technical crews are removing the old paint layer and repainting the inner part of the air intake.

 Israeli F-16Ds - Israeli air force

Israeli air force

The air force says repainting the affected intakes will be complete in a "short time" and stresses that, if needed, all its aircraft will be operationally available.

Flightglobal's MiliCAS database shows the Israeli air force has an active fleet of 325 F-16s, including 126 General Electric F110-100-powered C/D examples.

Tests continue in a bid to identify the cause of the problem, but an initial assessment suggests high temperatures in Israel this summer may be responsible.

Meanwhile, the air force has launched an investigation after an F-16I “Sufa” strike aircraft and a Boeing 707-based “Reem” tanker were damaged during an air-to-air refuelling drill conducted over southern Israel on 27 July. Both aircraft landed safely following the incident, during which the tanker’s refuelling boom is described as having “disintegrated”.

Source: Flight International