Israeli Fighter Jet Crashes in Southern Israel; Both Crewmembers Missing
An Israeli fighter jet carrying two crew members crashed Wednesday night in southern Israel while on a routine training flight, the military said.
The pilot and navigator apparently were not able to eject from the aircraft as the jet crashed in Negev, near the Ramon Crater. The cause of the accident has not been established yet but rescue crews are currently searching for the IAF members.
The F-16I Sufa, IAF’s newest and most advanced fighter jet, took off from the Ramon Air Force base and crashed somewhere in Negev at around 8:00 p.m. local time. The jet was leading a four aircraft training exercise.
While conducting the military drill, the Sufa suddenly fell to the ground without indicating any problem before the accident took place. An investigation was immediate launched and the IAF was looking into a technical malfunction or possible human error.
The F-16I is the newest and most advanced fighter jet in the IAF and it is armed with the AMRAAM air-to-air missile that gives it superior ability to shut down other aircraft as far as 50 kilometers away.
The fighter is the main jet used by the IAF and was manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Israel purchased 102 units of the two-seat F-16Is, the most advanced model of Lockheed between 2004 and 2008.
This was not the first incident involving the modern F-16I. In September, an F-16I was forced to make an emergency landing shortly after take off from the Ramon base due to a technical glitch. In consequence, IAF grounded the planes while conducting an inspection on all units.
During the Second Lebanon War, two crew members on an F-16I were forced to eject on the tarmac during take-off. In 2009, Assaf Ramon, son of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, was killed in a training accident. Ramon was flying an older model F-16.