Aviation History

Sidestick of Israeli Air Force F-16A that struck Osirak nuclear reactor during Operation Opera put up for auction

The sidestick controller from F-16A #78-0322 is up for auction. The former Israeli Air Force fighter was one of the six that bombed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq during Operation Opera back in 1981.

The sidestick controller from F-16A Netz #78-0322 is up for auction. As highlighted by Alert5, the former Israeli Air Force (IAF) fighter was one of the six that bombed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq during Operation Opera back in 1981.

The item will be put up for sale some five months after the 40th anniversary of Operation Opera.

Undertaken by IAF on Jun. 7, 1981 Operation Opera saw the service’s fighter bombers attacking the Osirak nuclear reactor. F-16A #78-0322 was part of the 117 Squadron.

The sidestick control grip that was used by the F-16 fighter jet pilot to bomb the Iraqi nuclear reactor

Known as Netz 129 in Israeli service, F-16A #78-0322 was flown by Col. Hagai Katz during Operation Opera.

As reported by Ynet News, the owner of the sidestick is a senior squadron member who wishes to remain anonymous, says that ‘The control stick came through squadron personnel, and I would rather say no more because it’s a sensitive subject.’

It’s unclear how the control stick came to the possession of the squadron members. IAF pilots who retire usually receive a “souvenir” such as a helmet, but not a fighter jet stick, certainly not one with such a rich history.

The surprising fact is that the sidestick’s buttons are still functional.

The sidestick control grip that was used by the F-16 fighter jet pilot to bomb the Iraqi nuclear reactor

Underneath the controller, the dates 6.6.81 and 12.81 are engraved on it. Indicating the dates the device was installed and removed from the F-16A.

The fate of the F-16 plane itself isn’t much different: at the beginning of 2021 in fact it was sold along with three others, to Top Aces a company in Canada that provides training services for the US Air Force (USAF).

“Six months ago, someone in Europe, sold part of a plane that fell in the 1950s with a symbol of an Israeli squadron for some $60,000,” said the grip’s owner.

“These kinds of items are very much in demand in the world, especially among collectors in the United States and flight enthusiasts, and this item has great value due to its historical meaning.”

Eyal Ilya from “Pentagon Auctions”, who is in charge of the sale along with “Garage Sale Collection”, is set to put the grip up for sale with the starting bid of $50,000, although he says “it’s clearly worth much more”.

“We already got an offer for $100,000, but we declined. That red button that you can see on the stick is one of the few buttons that saved Israel.”

The F-16 Sidestick Control Grip is the main pilot/aircraft interface for flight, avionics and armament systems. The sidestick stick grip provides a variety of single and multi-function switch assemblies for flight control, autopilot override, nosewheel steering, aerial refueling, display management, air-to-ground weapon release, and a two-stage trigger for air-to air weapons release.

Photo credit: Ynet News and Weapons and Warfare

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-16C Fighting Falcon 158th FW, 134th FS, 86-0336
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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