CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

To get a look at the F-16I fighter jet, I visited the sprawling Hatzerim Airbase, located in the Negev Desert, outside of the Israeli city of Be'er Sheva.

At the base, there was a concrete lot housing about half a dozen F-16Is, including this one.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
1
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

The F-16I, one of Israel's most-advanced fighter jets, is an Israeli-modified version of the Lockheed Martin aircraft that has been a mainstay of the US military.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
2
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

The F-16I is less nimble than its simpler, lighter sibling, the F-16A, but it makes up for that with a more powerful radar system and other technologies.

An F-16I fuel tank, tucked under the wing, is pictured here.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
3
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

The jet, nicknamed "Sufa," Hebrew for "storm," entered service in 2004. It's equipped with JDAM GPS-guided bombs, as well as Python 5 heat-seeking rockets and radar-guided missiles.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
4
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

The F-16I's wingspan is about 33 feet (10 meters), and the jet is about 49 feet (15 meters) long.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
5
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

Captain R., a 25-year-old pilot with the Israeli Air Force, showed me around the airbase and discussed the F-16I, which he's been flying as part of combat duty for the past year.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
6
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

Captain R., whose name and face weren’t published to protect his identity, uses a specialized helmet that includes a projector to display flight information on his visor and a camera to document his missions.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
7
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

The helmet-mounted display was created by Elbit Systems, an Israel-based defense contractor.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
8
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

A “Litening” targeting and navigation camera pod, created by Israel-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, can sit directly below the inlet, shown here.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
9
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

The jet's high-altitude speed is over Mach 2.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
10
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

Captain R. flew a F-16I for daily missions during the 2014 conflict in Gaza.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
11
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

In the concrete lot, several small shelters held jet fuel tanks.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
12
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

I also visited the Menashe regional military base to talk to Col. Yoni Saada Marom, who showed me the Arrow intercontinental missile-defense system.

We're standing right next to an Arrow battery, but unfortunately due to a military exercise that day, I was barred from taking pictures of the system.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
13
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

About an hour's drive south near the city of Ashkelon, I saw the Iron Dome, a mobile, rapid-response missile defense system Israel brought to the battlefield in 2011.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
14
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

Here's an active Iron Dome battery, used to protect Ashkelon from rocket fire from Gaza nearby.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
15
of 16

At Hatzerim Airbase

An advanced fighter jet

Built with high-tech systems

The cockpit

Safety first

Introducing Captain R.

A high-tech helmet

A homegrown technology

The F-16I's inlet

A speed demon

A workhorse jet

Fuel up

The Arrow system

Visiting the Iron Dome

An Iron Dome standing ready

The Iron Dome base

A small base with a handful of soldiers operated the Iron Dome, maintained in an open field at the end of a dirt road.

Published: / Caption: / Photo: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
16
of 16
Up Next

Chattanooga: From 'dirtiest city' to Internet haven (pictures)