Pilot error cause of downed Israeli F-16, Air Force investigation finds

Remains of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet downed by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles during Israeli retaliation for the invasion of an Iranian drone in Israeli airspace. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The pilots of an Israeli F-16 fighter plane that crashed after being hit with shrapnel from Syrian anti-aircraft missiles failed to take appropriate evasive action, leading to the crash, an Israel Air Force investigation determined.

The results of the investigation were sent on Sunday to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

The investigation also found that the pilots’ decision to eject from the plane was appropriate and saved their lives. One of the pilots was lightly injured. The other was seriously injured, required emergency surgery and remained on a respirator for several days. He left the Rambam Heath Care Campus in Haifa last week.

Their plane and several other aircraft were heading back into Israel early on February 11 after striking there an Iranian command center that had launched an unmanned aircraft, or drone, into Israel. The drone was shot down and captured and Israeli warplanes went in pursuit of the command center that operated the drone and other Iranian and Syrian targets in southern Syria.

The investigation also determined that the preliminary planning for the operation and the intelligence for the operation was sufficient. The F-16 warning systems also functioned properly, according to the investigation.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

“Quite often, operational activities demand of us to take risks- I expect each fighter to understand the great weight on his shoulders during his missions,” Eisenkot said in a statement.