Flying high-performance fighter jets usually requires years of training and successful navigation of military bureaucracy. Right now, it just requires about $8.5 million to buy a fully operational F-16 fighter that’s on sale in Florida. That’s maybe a bit simplistic — you’d also have to adhere to onerous government regulations that control access to military aircraft. In essence, it would cost more than the asking price to have your own fighter jet. But hey, opportunities like this don’t come along often.
Military vehicles and aircraft do occasionally hit the auction block, but these are almost always demilitarized. All the high-tech systems that play a role in modern war-fighting are removed, and engineers permanently disable any weapon platforms. The F-16 for sale via JetLease is still completely intact.
There are actually three similar jets for sale, which a buyer can get as a single lot if they want their own little air force. These are so-called F-16AM and BM Block 20 Mid-Life-Update (MLU) jets. They were most recently flown by Jordan, which purchased numerous second-hand fighters from NATO countries like Belgium and the Netherlands over the past few decades. These aircraft (built in the early 1980s) have been serviced to ensure they can fly for at least 8,000 more hours, and they have a maximum speed of Mach 2.05 (1,573 miles per hour).
The aircraft still have their advanced military systems intact. The buyer gets a Link16 wireless datalink system, which military units use to relay tactical data in almost real-time. The cockpits are also night vision-compatible and support the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS). That’s a heads-up display that uses magnetic trackers to synchronize the pilot’s head movements with aim sensors on the aircraft. The data-bus for modern guided weapons is still in place, as well.
It’s not unheard of for the ultra-rich to buy decommissioned military aircraft, but these jets will come with additional hurdles. Because they still have military capabilities, the buyer has to comply with the US government’s ITARS (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) rules. It’s unlikely a single wealthy individual would be able to get the necessary certifications. JetLEase is marketing the planes for contractor air service firms that work with the government.
The F-16 has been a workhorse of NATO air forces for the last 40 years, with more than 4,000 built. As governments increasingly move to more advanced 5th-generation fighters, fighters like these might pop up for sale with increasing regularity. You better start saving your pennies now.
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