Since entering service in 1978, the F-16 Fighting Falcon has become one of NATO's most popular fighters.
Much of that popularity came from the film "Iron Eagle" (1986), in which a young aviator flew in an F-16 to a country fictitious (but very similar to Gaddafi's Libya) to rescue his father.
Although many ignore this fact, the F-16s that appeared in that film were F-16A (single-seater) and F-16B (two-seater) of the Israeli Air Force, where these fighters are known as "Netz" (Falcon). The IAI Kfir fighters that appeared in that film pretending to be enemy planes were also Israeli.
Although the F-16s flew with the good guys in that movie, the US Air Force and Navy have been using F-16s in their aggressor squadrons for years, which play the role of enemy aircraft in the training of fighter pilots. However, for some time now these training sessions have been opening the doors to private companies that have old fighter jets to play the role of aggressors.
One of those private companies is Top Aces, a company with base in Montreal (Canada) that provides training to the air forces of Canada, Germany and the United States. Its aircraft fleet includes Dornier Alpha Jet trainers, Bombardier Learjet 35A executive jets, Douglas A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft and - for two years- F-16A and F-16B fighters. In January 2021, Israel sold 29 F-16A/B to Top Aces. The planes came from surplus Israeli Air Force supplies. The last Israeli F-16A/B were retired from service in 2016, being replaced by the more modern F-16C/D.
Top Aces now flies those F-16A/Bs with US civilian registrations, being the only civil company of this fighter model currently in the world (in addition to these, the other civil operator of the F-16 is NASA, which has used its F-16s for experimental purposes). In 2022, Top Aces obtained a contract with the US Air Force to train pilots with their F-16 Netz acting as aggressor aircraft.
This Saturday, veteran pilot Hasard Lee has published a video of a flight in one of Top Aces's F-16B, during a dogfight training. The plane in this video could be one of the two-seat F-16B Netz that appeared in "Iron Eagle":
Photos: Top Aces / James Deboer / Hasard Lee.
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