An F-16i on a training flight crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, some 50 kilometers off the coast of the Gaza Strip, on Sunday. The plane’s pilot, an Israel Air Force flight instructor, and navigator, who was being trained, safely ejected from the aircraft and parachuted to the sea before being rescued.
The two-seater fighter jet was taking part in a training exercise in which it drilled an interception. “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 source said.
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 F15i 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.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/F-16-crashes-into-sea-Airmen-eject-safely-319021