The F-16I Soufa (Storm) is a modified variant of the F-16D block 50 and 52 fighters and ground attack aircraft, with the avionics and weapons systems capability modified to meet the requirements of the Israeli Air Force.
Israel ordered 50 F-16I aircraft in 2001 and signed the agreement for an optional additional 52 aircraft in September 2001. The Israeli Air Force has selected the F16I in a two-seat configuration only.
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The production programme, Peace Marble V, is the fifth acquisition of F-16s. It increased the number of Israeli Air Force F-16 aircraft to 362, giving the IAF the largest fleet of F-16 fighters apart from the USA.
For instance, while the United States Air Force uses only 370-gallon drop tanks on the F-16, the Israelis use 600-gallon tanks, adding 62 percent more fuel to the external tankage.
The Israelis also turned the F-16Ds, normally used as conversion trainers, into precision-strike specialist planes. Israeli planes are also equipped with lots of Israeli-designed electronic gear, usually for electronic warfare.
These hacks have a price – Israeli Vipers are heavier and require modifications to their landing gear.
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Despite buying a custom version of the F-15E Strike Eagle, called the F-15I, Israel has opted to stick with their own F-16I won, and not just because its capabilities have been forged by combat use.
The F-16I is an advanced cheaper than the F-15I. Although Israel is among the countries that will acquire the F-35 Lightning, the F-16 will be around for a long time as a key asset for the Israeli Defense Force.
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