IAF likely to boost Romania training

Despite crash, there is a need to improve mountainous terrain flying.

IAF helicopter 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
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.
Assessments are 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.
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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.
The Carpathian 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.
While 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 malfunction.
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.