September 2, 2009 (by Lieven Dewitte) - An Israeli Air Force F-16I fighter jet on Wednesday made an emergency landing at the Ramon Base in the Negev after experiencing an unusual malfunction.
IDFAF F-16D block 52 #427 from Tayeset 253 is seen recovering from a Red Flag 09-4 mission at Nellis AFB on July 17th, 2009. [Photo by EOR]
said that the pilot was flying above the base when he experienced a problem. He decided to switch off the engine and attempt an emergency landing without it.
The crew managed successfully to execute the emergency landing while emergency forces stood by at the base. The jet remained undamaged.
The F-16I, called "Sufa" in the IAF, is Israel
's newest fighter jet. Early this year the IAF finished receiving 102 of them.
Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan decided Wednesday night to temporarily ground all F-16I fighter jets to carry out technical inspections. Military sources said the grounding would be lifted on Thursday morning.
This is the second time that the plane has been grounded. In March 2008, the IAF decided to ground all F-16Is after formaldehyde was found in the cockpit of one of the aircraft.
The decision to suspend training flights was made after a number of pilots complained of a bad smell coming from the cockpit of one of the planes. The IDF Medical Branch conducted tests and discovered that the smell was caused by a type of formaldehyde known to be carcinogenic in high concentration.
[Update 22 Sep 2009: The malfunction was apparently caused by human error in the maintenance of the engine.]