July 7, 2013 (by Asif Shamim) - An Israeli F-16I 'Sufa' on a training flight crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, some 50 km off the coast of the Gaza Strip, on Sunday. Both crew were able to eject safely.
The two-seater jet believed to be from 107th Squadron out of the Hazerim airbase near Be'er-Sheva was taking part in a training interception exercise.
“A technical fault caused the engine to switch off,” a senior air force source said. The pilot attempted to start the engine several times, without success.
After sending out a distress message both crew ejected and landed in the sea in close proximity to one another before being rescued by a helicopter from the 669 Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit,” the source added.
The airmen underwent an initial medical check-up by the rescue medics, before they were airlifted to a hospital. “Both are in good condition,” the air force source said.
IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel temporarily grounded all F-16i and F-15i training flights until an initial inquiry into the failure is completed.
“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.