The F-16I fleet, known by its Hebrew name "Sufa," or "Storm," was
grounded on March 20 following health complaints by pilots. The F-16Is were
examined and at least seven of the aircraft were found to have contained a
high level of formaldehyde, a carcinogen.
Officers said the cause of the pilots complaints was not identified.
They said the air force conducted tests on the F-16I in cooperation with
manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
"A thorough check that included all Sufa airplanes has discovered that
only in seven planes the level of formaldehyde was higher than the
international standard," the military said. "In these planes there will be
no future flights. In addition, a sample of all kinds of airplanes was
checked and no similar problem was discovered."
Israel has ordered 102 F-16Is in two deals with Lockheed Martin that
totaled $4.5 billion. The final F-16Is, which saw combat in the 2006 war
with Hizbullah, were expected to arrive over the next few months.
The military statement said air force teams would continue to examine
and monitor the F-16I fleet. The statement said the risk of exposure to
formaldehyde was "extremely low."
"In part of the airplanes special filters were installed for
inspection," the military said.