Several American-built F-16 fighter jet engines were stolen from an Israeli air base last Thursday.
Reports from Israel defense forces officials suggest that the engines were "stolen with inside help," and may have been sold for scrap, according to Defense Tech.
The theft follows a similar incident in 2011, when eight F-15 and F-16 fighter engines from a base at Tel Nof, near Jerusalem. Israeli officials also suggested at that time that the engines were stolen for scrap.
American security and aviation experts, however, said they don't believe that either theft should be taken lightly. They suggested that even if the 3,700 pound engines were no longer in commission and were merely stolen for parts, other countries may still be interested in studying them.
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According to Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis with Teal Group, a defense industry research corporation in Washington, D.C., modern American military technologies are “a black art,” coveted by several competitors.
“They’re still more modern than anything in the Iranian air force inventory, and they would even be helpful to China in their jet engine development,” Aboulafia told Military.com in 2011.
John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a defense and intelligence company in Alexandria, Va., suggested that even the outdated engines are “better than anything the communist Chinese have.”
Geek.com suggests that the same people who orchestrated the 2011 thefts could possible be involved in the recent one, "meaning they are organized and capable of transporting the engines quietly to whoever chooses to buy them," the website said.
According to Defense Tech, the Pentagon's statement on both incidents remains the same, that the Israelis have the most information about the thefts.
“This is something you’ll want to most likely talk to the Israelis about. Obviously we have had a longstanding relationship with the Israelis and we’ll continue to,” said a Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Jack Miller.
The Military blog has since had its questions referred to officials in Jerusalem by the Israeli embassy in Washington.
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