F-16 Fighting Falcon News

F-16I crashes in Negev desert

November 11, 2010 (by Asif Shamim) - An Israeli F-16I crashed Wednesday night in southern Israel during a routine training flight, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. Both crew were killed in the incident.

The F-16I "Sufa" (F-16D block 52) #480 (#00-1041) was part of a four ship formation that was on a training exercise from Ramon Air Force Base and crashed somewhere in the area of Mitzpeh Ramon at around 20:00h local time on Wednesday.

IDF/AF investigators suspect that the pilot did not realize how low he had flown because no distress call was received.

The IDF launched an extensive search in the hope of recovering the crew, but the remains of pilot Maj. Amihai Itkis, 28, and navigator Maj. Emmanuel Levi, 30, were found on Thursday afternoon. IDF/AF commander Major General Ido Nehushtan notified the pilot and navigator's families of their loss.

The black box from the jet was recovered said IDF/AF Brig. Gen Nimrod Shefer. It will be shipped to Lockheed Martin for examination to determine the exact cause of the crash. Initial reports suggest the cause was human error rather than a technical fault.

General Nehushtan has ordered a board of inquiry to investigate the crash and has also halted further training flights of Israel's F-16I squadrons.

The F-16 is the main fighter jet used by the Israeli Air Force. 102 of the two-seater F-16Is were acquired from Lockheed Martin between 2004 and 2008.

This is the third incident reported involving the F-16I. One crashed during a landing in the 2006 due to a malfunction. Last September, another F-16I had to make an emergency landing after experiencing engine failure during a routine training flight.