Israel Air Force Grounds Fighter Jets After Series of Near-accidents

IDF says, however, that fighter jets in the north and south maintained their operational preparedness,

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Air force chief Amir Eshel ordered all fighter jets grounded on Sunday, after a series of near-accidents, including one about three weeks ago in which planes piloted by senior officers got too close to each other during a training run.

The Israel Defense Forces said, however, that fighter jets in the north and south maintained their operational preparedness. Maj. Gen. Eshel ordered that all safety procedures at Israel Air Force fighter squadrons be updated. Fighter-aircraft training is expected to resume on Monday.

After the incident in September, the IAF held safety briefings at every squadron. This came after two senior officers - the head of the Adjutant General Branch, Brig. Gen. Ilan Boger, and the commander of the Hatzerim base, Brig. Gen. Ziv Levy - broke safety rules during training when two F-16 D fighter jets came too close to each other.

"The air force has to train [in conditions] as close as possible to reality and maintain its operational capabilities while meticulously maintaining safety," the IDF said.

About a month ago, the air force's fleet of Yasur helicopters was grounded following a hitch in one chopper during a training flight. The crew noticed a problem with the helicopter's rotor and made an emergency landing in an open field near the Tel Nof air base.

In late July, a glitch took place during airborne refueling when a fuel pipe hit the fuselage of an F-16 I fighter jet, causing it light damage, while the in-flight refueling boom was broken. The pilot made an emergency landing at the Ovda air base.

Israel Air Force technical unit performing maintenance on a F-16.

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