Two killed in IDF helicopter crash off Haifa coast

January 4, 2022 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Two Israeli Air Force (IAF) pilots were killed and an officer was moderately injured when an IAF helicopter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Haifa during a training flight on Monday night.

An Israeli army flare illuminating the sky during searches for survivors after a helicopter crashed off the coast of the northern Israeli city of Haifa

An IDF spokesman stated that Lt. Col. Erez Sahiani, the deputy commander of the Ramat David Air Force Base, 38 years old, married and a father of three, and Captain Chen Fogel, a helicopter pilot in the Defenders of the West Squadron (193), 27 years old from Haifa, were killed in the crash.

A naval patrol officer who was on board with the two pilots jumped into the water before the crash and was rescued. He was injured and is in stable condition.

Lt. Col. Erez Sahiani (R) and Major Chen Fogel. (IDF)

Footage of the crash posted online shows the helicopter dropping into the sea and then an explosion occurs.

Air Force Commander Major General Amikam Norkin ordered the grounding of all the IAF’s Eurocopter AS-565 Panthers, the helicopter model that crashed, and also ordered the stopping of training flights in the Air Force. He also appointed an investigation team to probe the incident.

“We send our heartfelt condolences to the families of the two pilots who lost their lives,” the IDF stated.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that “this is a very sad night. On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were killed in the helicopter accident.”

“The Air Force pilots who perished in the accident were among the best of our sons. The people of Israel will not forget their contribution, night and day, for the security of the state,” he said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he “extends my heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed in the helicopter accident and wishes complete healing to the wounded. I spoke with the Chief of Staff, and I promise the IDF will investigate the incident and draw the necessary lessons.”

“I would like to thank the rescue forces who acted quickly and under difficult conditions to locate the helicopter crew,” he added.

Squadron 193 is engaged in naval reconnaissance and carries out assistance missions to the Israeli Navy and operates in close cooperation with the missile boat fleet.

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