Listing Offers Twenty Complete Combat Aircraft For Sale, With Parts! For “only” 200K USD.
Ever wanted to command your own private air force? Here’s your chance, and the price seems reasonable.
Raptor Aviation of Port St. Lucie, Florida in the U.S has listed the sale of 20 jet trainer/light strike aircraft, an entire squadron, with spare parts and sundries. The aircraft are IAI Tzukits, the Israeli version of the Fouga CM.170 Magister.
The price? Only 200,000 USD takes the lot according to their advert.
“They’ll need about 20,000-25,000 USD in repairs before they can fly again,” Albert from Raptor Aviation told us in a phone interview, “They need some restoration.”
The detailed listing on Raptor Aviation’s website and Facebook page shows the aircraft have relatively high hours on them, with the remaining hours listed. All the avionics and other components are specified in the .pdf file on the listing. When we phoned Raptor Aviation to ask about the aircraft, they picked up on the third ring and were ready to answer any questions about the planes.
The Tzukit is a twin-engine, tandem two-seater with a mostly straight wing and unique “V” tail like a Beechcraft Bonanza. The aircraft are listed by independent sources as originally costing $75,000 USD as new in 1955 dollars.
While developed largely as a primary jet trainer, the Israelis used the somewhat lumbering Tzukit in the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War as a strike aircraft. It’s also been flown by the Belgian “Red Devils” and Irish “Silver Swallows” aerobatic teams- and 20 of your own aircraft would make an impressive private jet demo team!
Adding to the colorful history of this type, the Tzukit/Magister was flown by mercenaries in Congo-Léopoldville, Central Africa during the siege of Jadotville in early 1961. The hired-gun pilots reportedly destroyed two large, four-engine DC-4s and a smaller twin-engine DC-3 during a ground attack using its 7.62 guns and somewhat cobbled up locally made aerial bombs.
If you want to start your own air force in the United States, however, the FAA, FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) will need to have a chat with you.
Albert of Raptor Aviation told us “fleet” sales like this aren’t unusual, “I could list you a dozen fleets for sale right now, everything from these to other types of retired trainers. It’s just like anything else; air forces have to update their equipment. This is one place the old planes go.”
“One of two things will happen with the planes,” Albert told us in a phone interview, “Someone will buy them and sell them off as individual aircraft, we see that all the time, or, they’ll be sold as scrap.”
Considering a single aircraft ejector seat can fetch well over $20,000 USD as a cool-looking souvenir for a well-heeled aircraft enthusiast (see below…), this could be a good money-making venture.
Before you ring up Albert though, he reminded us that, “Whoever buys them has to get them back [to the United States] here though.” When I asked Albert where they are, he told me, “Israel”.
Actually, the Italian (not the Israeli) Air Force has been the first service to take delivery of the first operational F-35s outside the United States.
On Dec. 12, whilst several Israeli and international media outlets focused on the delivery of the first F-35I “Adir” to Nevatim airbase (delayed by some 6 hours because of fog) highlighting how Israel had just become “the first country after the US” to get the new plane, far from the spotlight, the 13° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 32° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) received its first two F-35A Lightning II, becoming the very first country to take delivery of the 5th generation stealth jet outside of the U.S.
Noteworthy, the delivery flight was carried out by two Italian military pilots (the Israeli planes were flown by Lockheed Martin pilots) who flew their two JSFs (Joint Strike Fighters) to Amendola, where the aircraft landed in the early afternoon on Monday.
Indeed, whereas the arrival of the first Israeli or Dutch F-35s got a significant media coverage (with constant updates, live streaming on social media, etc.), the Italian Air Force has kept a very “low profile” about its achievements with the F-35 so far.
Then, on Feb. 5, 2016 the first Italian Air Force F-35, successfully completed the type’s very first transatlantic crossing landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. To prepare for the 7-hour transoceanic flight the Italian Air Force conducted tanker trials in the U.S. (in July 2015) with its KC-767A, that became the first tanker not operated by the U.S. Air Force to undergo refueling certification trials with an F-35.
The aircraft were initially scheduled to arrive in Israel at around 2.00PM LT but the aircraft could not depart from the Italian airbase experiencing bad weather conditions with a horizontal visibility between 250 and 700 m, with clouds at 200 feet, well below the IFR minimums for the ferry flight.
Although some immediately blamed the F-35 for the delay, it must be said that the same wx (weather) would have grounded any other modern warplane on delivery or not involved in an actual combat mission.
An unlucky start for the “Adir” that caused the ceremony, to be attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Ashotn Carter, to be delayed by about 5.5 hours.
The “Adir” (F-35I) jets have taken off from Italy. The ceremony will begin at 19.30 at Nevatim AFB
As if the delay was not enough, on the very same day, U.S. president-elect Donald Trump said on Twitter that the F-35 cost is out of control, and that he would save billions on that once he takes office on Jan. 20, 2017.
The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.
The Israeli Air Force is being delivered the first two 5th Generation stealth jets on Monday. They will help Israel “retain its edge” in the Middle East.
The IAF is expected to take delivery of its first 2 F-35A Lightning II jets at Nevatim airbase, in southern Israel, on Dec. 12.
The aircraft, lacking the Israeli low-visibility roundels (that will be applied once delivered to the “customer”) are flown by U.S. pilots and supported by a U.S. Air Force KC-135 tanker.
On their way to Israel, the 5th generation jets have performed a stopover in Lajes, Azores, where they arrived using radio callsign “Retro 11” and “Retro 12” on Dec. 6, and then in Cameri, Italy, where they have landed on Dec. 8.
F-35A “Adir” 902 landing at Cameri airbase on Dec. 8, 2016.
The two Israeli F-35s, are the first and only of 50 Lightning II jets, designated “Adir” (“Mighty One”) by the Israeli, to be flown from the U.S.: the rest will be shipped by sea according to the IDF (Israeli Defense Force.)
“As the Middle East grows more and more unstable, and as groups that threaten to destroy us race to stockpile weapons, we need to stay a step ahead of the game. The F-35 gives us the edge we need to take on groups and armies with even the most advanced technology,” says the IDF in a blog on the imminent delivery.
The Israeli F-35s will have some domestic modifications and components provided by Israeli companies, including Israel Aerospace Industries that will produce the F-35’s outer wings, Elbit Systems-Cyclone, that will provide center fuselage composite components as well as Elbit Systems Ltd. that will provide Gen. III helmet-mounted display systems to be worn by all Lightning II pilots.
“Once the F-35 lands in Israel, it will be all our own. The IAF is adding its own systems to the jet, bringing a touch of the Start Up Nation to this already state-of-the-art plate. All maintenance and testing of the plane will be done in Israel, and the planes are projected to be operational in about one year.”
The IAF F-35As will be different from the “standard” F-35s, as they will employ national EW (Electronic Warfare) pods, weaponry, C4 systems etc. For this reason, Israeli F-35s are sometimes dubbed F-35I (for Israel.)
Despite criticism, Israel decided to exercise the option for another 17 aircraft. And there might also be some F-35Bs at the horizon to enable the Israeli Air Force to continue operating from dispersed locations in case of attack.
On Nov. 27, the Israeli Ministerial Committee for National Security, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided to purchase another 17 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft, bringing the total to 50 Lightning II jets.
The first two examples of the controversial, expensive, advanced 5th Generation aircraft, designated “Adir” (“Mighty One”) by the Israeli, are expected to be delivered to the Israeli Air Force (IAF), at Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel, in about three weeks.
The Israeli F-35s will have some components contributed by Israeli companies, including Israel Aerospace Industries that will produce the F-35’s outer wings, Elbit Systems-Cyclone, that will provide center fuselage composite components as well as Elbit Systems Ltd. that will provide Gen. III helmet-mounted display systems to be worn by all Lightning II pilots.
Although the extent of “domestic” modifications is still unknown, the IAF F-35As will be somehow different from the “standard” F-35s, as they will embed national EW (Electronic Warfare) pods, weaponry, C4 systems etc. This is the reason why Israeli F-35s are sometimes dubbed F-35I (for Israel), as if they were a different variant from the three baseline versions (A, B and C).
For sure, the new sales represents a good promotion for Lockheed Martin, considered the fame of the Israeli Air Force, known to be one of the most advanced and very well equipped: if the F-35s were deemed to be able to meet all the requirements of a service with a really strong reputation, that has been at war for decades and has employed its combat planes to perform some really complex operations (like the air strikes on the Iraqi nuclear reactor and the Syrian nuclear facility in 2007), then they should be good for most of the world air forces (some of those continue to invest in the program.)
By the way, the news comes few days after Canada announced the plan to use F/A-18E/F Super Hornet multi-role fighters as “gap fillers” until Ottawa decides on a replacement for its fleet of legacy Hornet aircraft. In fact, after investing in the program for several decades, the new Trudeau Government canceled Canada’s planned purchase of the F-35 (considered too expensive) and announced a new, forthcoming open competition for a permanent CF-18 replacement.
Anyway, it seems that the IAF might end up operating F-35Bs as well.
Israel is a small country and its main airfields could be easily threatened by long-range weapons in the hands of state actors or handed over to militant movements like Hamas and Hezbollah: IAF’s only chance to continue operating in case of attack would be dispersing aircraft to remote locations, an option that would be viable only thanks to the unique F-35B STOVL capabilities.