(JNS.org) An Israeli Air Force (IAF) Apache attack helicopter crashed Monday night during a flight in Israel’s Negev desert at the Ramon Air Base, killing the pilot and severely injuring a crew member.
According to IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, the crash occurred just before 9 p.m., after the pilot reported the aircraft was experiencing technical problems.
Several minutes later, the chopper approached the base’s runway and crashed near a landing pad. The helicopter’s pilot, Maj. (res.) David “Dudi” Zohar, 43, was confirmed dead at the scene and the navigator, in the backseat of the aircraft, was severely injured and evacuated to Be’er Sheva’s Soroka Medical Center.
Manelis said senior IDF officials have launched a full investigation into the cause of the crash and that all IAF Apaches will be grounded until the end of the probe.
In June, the IAF’s commander, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, grounded the IAF’s entire Apache fleet after a crack was discovered in the rear rotor blade of one of the fleet’s helicopters. Following that discovery, Eshel launched an official investigation to determine the cause of the crack, which developed as a result of worn material after thousands of hours of flight time.
Further, in late July, an IAF Apache was forced to make an emergency landing in Judea and Samaria after crew members reported tremors coming from the back of the helicopter. It has not been determined if the cause of Monday night’s crash is related to similar technical issues.