Washington (Aug. 19)
The F-16 warplanes for Israel, which were released from the embargo the U.S. had imposed, will continue to be grounded for an indefinite period, Pentagon officials said today. The officials told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the planes are under flight restrictions because of “modifications” that must be made. “We are not even in a position to guess on when we will have them ready,” the JTA was told.
The Pentagon began repairs on the F-16s last week after one of the planes crashed in Utah and its pilot was killed. The U.S. grounded all the F-16s in this country and other countries with U.S.-made F-16s did so “voluntarily,” a Pentagon official said. The problem reportedly is with the planes’ flight control computers.
Meanwhile, Pentagon officials said today that the F-15s due for delivery to Israel, now at the McDonnell -Douglas plant in St. Louis, “will depart for Israel after the U.S. Air Corps and tanker support have been arranged and when all required preflight tests have been made. We do not have an exact time yet.”
President Reagan ordered an embargo on 14 F-16s and two F-15s after Israel bombed the nuclear reactor plant in Iraq last June and the terrorist installations in Beirut last month. He ordered the embargo lifted on all the planes Monday.