IAF helicopter 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel and Romania have begun talks about future joint training exercises
despite last week’s helicopter disaster in the Carpathian Mountains that killed
six Israel Air Force servicemen and one Romanian officer.
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that the IAF will increase its future training deployments in Romania because,
if the crash was caused by human error, as the initial findings suggest, there
is a need to improve the ability of Israeli pilots to fly in mountainous terrain
like that in Romania.
The specific exercise in which the IAF Sikorsky
CH-53 Sea Stallion (Yasour) helicopter crashed last Monday was meant to simulate
a search-and-rescue mission in unfamiliar terrain.
Mountains are known for their high peaks, unstable weather and dense forests,
conditions that Israeli pilots do not frequently train in.
On Friday, the
IAF team looking into the reasons for the disaster returned to Israel and began
studying the wreckage recovered from the crash site and deemed vital for the
investigation. The helicopter’s black box was recovered shortly after the crash
but was severely damaged; it is still unclear if it will be able to provide
investigators with information regarding the cause of the crash.
investigators are leaning toward the possibility of human error, they are also
looking into reports that the same helicopter had experienced a malfunction a
week earlier during a training flight in Romania. The helicopter was fixed at
the time and it is still unclear if the crash was related to the initial
Israel and Romania began training together in 2006, when
then-defense minister Shaul Mofaz signed a five-year agreement with his Romanian
counterpart that formalized ties and enabled the IAF to deploy aircraft and
soldiers for training there.