An Israel Defense Forces spokesman says military police are investigating the theft of F-16 engines from an IDF base and will pass along their findings to military legal officials when finished “if deemed necessary.
“The IDF prides itself on its level of professionalism, which obviously extends to security on military bases. Due to the ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further at this point,” Capt. Eytan Buchman told Defense Tech in an email.
The IDF for now is saying only parts were stolen, though Israeli media – from the Hebrew-language website Walla, which broke the story, to the Jerusalem Post and others, say several engines were taken. Buchman told Defense Tech that because of the ongoing investigation he could not say exactly what was taken.
The Israelis had an equally embarrassing theft about 18 months ago, when eight F-15 and F-16 engines were stolen from Tel Nof air base near Jerusalem.
Buchman also was not able to answer questions related to those thefts.
“I am still waiting from the military censor to see whether we can pass on information,” he said.
The IDF has played down the seriousness of the losses, noting the engines are older models. But American defense and military analysts have said there is still classified technology in the engines that a competing nation could uncover by taking them apart.
In both cases, the IDF has suggested the thefts were c carried out by people intending to sell the materials for scrap.
In July, the Israelis failed to stop thieves from infiltrating a Negev training base and fleeing with ammunition crates. The IDF says the crates were empty.
The Israelis said the perpetrators were Bedouin scrap metal thieves who made their getaway in SUVs.
According to a report on the web site for Arutz Sheva, Israel’s Channel 7, the Bedouins made off with live ammo in the crates. The station also claimed that the thieves toyed with the pursuing IDF troops by stopping the SUVs periodically to let them get near, then speeding off again. The Israelis ended the chase once the SUVs got beyond the perimeter.
The station also reported that four months earlier Israel’s Channel 2 broadcast video showing Bedouins driving onto the firing range of the same base in daylight, seizing metal scraps from blasted targets and heading out again. The Bedouins were said to have mocked the Israelis, certain that the troops would not fire on them and that they could outmaneuver the IDF tanks and vehicles.