Israeli sources reported, Wednesday, that rescue teams are now searching for an Israeli Air Force pilot and his navigator after their fighter-jet (F-16I) crashed in a canyon in the Negev Desert during training. The jet took off from the Ramon Air Force base and crashed around 8 PM in the area of Mitzpeh Ramon, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported.
The army is still unaware whether the two pilots managed to safely eject from the plane before it crashed. A search campaign is currently ongoing in an attempt to locate the navigators.
Haaretz said that the jet was leading four fighter jets during a drill, and that it suddenly crashed without reporting any issues before the incident took place.
The Israel Air Force stated that it intends to investigate the issue and decided to cancel all drills using the F-16I Jets until further notice.
In the period between 2004 and 2008, Israel purchased 102 models of the F-16I two-seater fighter jets that are considered more advanced than that F-16 jets.
Haaretz said that a few minor security incidents involving the jets have occurred during those years.
An incident was reported in 2009 when one of the F-16I jets had to make an emergency landing shortly after he took off from the Ramon military base. The reason for the landing was attributed to a technical error.
During the second Lebanon war, two pilots had to eject from their jet on the runway during take-off.
In September 2009, an Israeli pilot was killed while flying F-16 jets over south Mountain Hebron, while in 2009, two pilots were killed during training using a Cobra Attack Chopper in the Jerzeel Valley, Haaretz added.
Also, six Israeli pilots and a Romanian officer were killed this past July when an Israeli Air Force helicopter crashed during a drill in Romania.