Israel Air Force test pilots are flying MIG 29 jets and conducting dogfights against the IAF's F-16 fighters, Israel TV Channel 2 revealed last Wednesday. The MIG 29, developed by the soviets in the 1970s, is one of the best fighter jets used by eastern and Arab countries, as well as by Syria and Iran. It was developed to counter American-made jets such the F-16 or F/A-18.
The Jerusalem post, which printed the story this week, claims that the jets were loaned to Israel by an unnamed foreign country. It is not the first time that Israeli fighter pilots tested Russian aircraft. One of the most dramatic stories happened in a major intelligence coup, the Israeli Mossad stole an Iraqi MiG-21 in 1966, its active pilot flying it to a secret airbase in Israel.
A test jet is just like a regular one, except for special sensors which cover literally every aspect of its mechanical and electronic systems and can be monitored from the ground for assessment, a senior test pilot explained.
An additional experiment conducted recently by the air force involved loading an F-16 with weapons to its utmost capacity, or "flight in a heavy formation," as the test pilot labeled it. The experiment was meant to measure the pilot's safety and the fighter's capability when it was carrying the maximum amount of armaments.
A jet so armed might be used in a long-distance sortie. The pilots interviewed would not name which foreign countries might be the targets of such sorties, but it was clear the main target of such an ambitious mission would be Iran's nuclear installations.
Upper photo: MiG 29 Fulcrum air force technology
Lower: F-16I before tage-off IAF official