An F-16i on a training flight crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, some 50 km. off
the coast of the Gaza Strip, on Sunday.
The plane’s pilot, an IAF flight
instructor and navigator, who was being trained, safely ejected from the
aircraft and parachuted to the sea before being rescued.
fighter jet was taking part in a training exercise in which it attempted an
“A technical fault caused the engine to switch off,”
a senior air force source said.
“They both ejected and
parachuted. They spent around an hour in the sea in close proximity to
one another, before being rescued by helicopter by the 669 Airborne Rescue and
Evacuation Unit,” the source added.
The airmen underwent an initial
medical check-up by the Unit 669 medics, before they were air lifted to a
hospital for further checks.
“Both are in good condition,” the air force
Seconds after their engine cut out, the pilots attempted and failed to restart
it. They sent a radio distress call before ejecting.
IAF chief Maj.-Gen.
Amir Eshel temporarily grounded all F-16i and F-15i training flights until an
initial inquiry into the failure is completed.
Both jets use the same
Pratt and Whitney engine.
“These engines have tens of thousands of flight
hours,” the air force source said. “We’ve experienced midair failures in the
past,” he added.The F-16i has been in the IAF’s service since 2004.