Are you an aspiring warlord on a budget? Are you tired of losing business to other drug cartels just because you lack air superiority? Maybe you’re just sick of waiting for your checked baggage at your local airport. Well now you can buy your own air force for a fraction of the price of a single, well-equipped private jet.
Raptor Aviation out of Port St. Lucie, Florida is brokering the sale of 20 Cold War-era “light strike aircraft”—IAI Tzukits, the Israeli version of the Fouga CM.170 Magister—for the low price of $200,000.
The planes are currently located in Israel, and are not all flight-ready, though Raptor Aviation is quick to note that the planes also come with a sizeable stock of parts to keep them all in operating condition for years to come. This is important, because the company that produces them went out of business in 1961.
“They’ll need about $20,000-25,000 USD in repairs before they can fly again,” Albert from Raptor Aviation told The Aviationist in a phone interview. “They need some restoration.”
The fighters were originally developed for use as jet trainers for the Israeli military, though this brand of aircraft has seen combat in a number of theaters to include the Congo, El Salvador, and Morocco. They come equipped with twin 7.62-millimeter machine guns in the nose and the ability to carry up to 310 pounds of ordnance below their fixed wings.
Raptor Aviation doesn’t expect that the aircraft will be purchased by someone intending to actually put them to use, but rather hopes to sell them to a third party to be disseminated further. “One of two things will happen with the planes,” Albert said. “Someone will buy them and sell them off as individual aircraft—we see that all the time—or they’ll be sold as scrap.”
Although an investor choosing to sell these planes for parts could potentially make a good deal of money (the ejector seats alone in each plane can sell for as much as 20,000 dollars) the assumption that a fleet of mostly intact fighter jets going for the kind of money most drug cartels lose in their couch cushions couldn’t end up in dangerous hands seems a bit naïve. After all, in parts of Mexico where civilians are banding together in vigilante groups to protect themselves from criminal organizations and the corrupt local governments that support them, the drug trade is rumored to be worth $13 billion annually.
The twin-jet engine, two-seater aircraft are listed on Raptor Aviation’s website as “used for primary, basic, and advanced training, and can also be used for light bombing and ground support missions.” So despite Albert’s claims that the planes will likely be sold piecemeal to collectors and scrapyards, Raptor Aviation doesn’t seem to be trying to dissuade anyone on the market who’s seeking a little air support.
Not included in the sale price, but something to be considered, is the fleet’s current location. In order to purchase the planes, you’ll need to arrange for disassembly and shipping from where the Israeli Air Force is storing them. A price has not been published regarding the potential cost of shipping and handling for an entire air force, but it may actually exceed the sale price of the aircraft.
Of course, if you’re hoping to start your own American-based air force, you might need to have some long conversations with government officials, as well as law enforcement that may not appreciate strafing runs made behind the local Walmart.
Image courtesy of Raptor Aviation