Budget cuts could rise second-hand F-16 sales

second hand F16 sales
USAF F-16 Viper Demo Team fighters.

As a deep economic crisis continues to weigh on much of the world, defense budgets are taking a hit, forcing many countries to look at second-hand fighter jets. At the same time, thanks to the transition to fifth generation aircraft by many armed forces, the market is being populated by decommissioned fighters, especially F-16s.

Over the past decade, these jets have attracted all those nations that need to bolster their air forces without spending billions on new aircraft.

While Lockheed Martin charges around $ 60 million for a brand new F-16, a second-hand Fighting Falcon costs just $ 15 million. For many countries with limited budgets, this is an attractive offer. Romania, Jordan and Chile have already secured some of them, while other countries, such as Croatia, Pakistan and Indonesia are considering doing the same.

“There’s interest as you see some some countries going to the F-35. They may be looking to divest of some of their F-16s and there’s partner nations out there that could [buy] those excess,” Heidi Grant, former deputy undersecretary of the US Air Force for international affairs, said. “It’s more affordable within their defense budgets. We’re working with many countries trying to make these transactions, third-party transfers, work.”

In 2012 Portugal agreed to supply Romania with a good number of F-16 aircraft. “Second-hand fighters do not mean the same thing as a second-hand car. They are disassembled to the last pieces of wing. When they are reassembled they can be used in safe conditions. The fighters are very well maintained,” said former Romanian Defense Minister Corneliu Dobritoiu. 

In the same way, Jordan in 2007 signed an agreement with Belgium for the sale of 14 F-16s worth 90 million dollars. In early 2009, Chile purchased 18 F-16 aircraft from the Netherlands under a contract worth $ 270 million.

In addition, many former allies of Russia, currently equipped with Soviet aircraft, are trying to westernize and looking for American-made jets. The purchase of the latter favors their military integration with NATO members and allies.

The economic crisis has led even the most advanced countries, such as the United States, to outsource the 'Red Air' service, many private defense contractors are thus enhancing their fleet of light aircraft with front-line fighters. This is the case of the Canadian Top Aces which recently procured 19 former Israeli Air Force F-16s.

With deliveries of the F-35 advancing, the supply of used F-16s will be even greater in the coming years and we believe that many nations will still benefit from the new stocks.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credit: USAF/Senior Airman Mary Begy

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