Thursday, September 3, 2009

F-16Is grounded after one suffers engine failure


By YAAKOV KATZ


Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan decided Wednesday night to temporarily ground all F-16I fighter jets from training operations after a jet experienced engine failure earlier in the day and made an emergency landing.

The F-16I - called the Sufa (storm) in the IAF - is one of the most-advanced fighter jets in the air force, the last of which arrived in Israel earlier this year.The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon when the engine of an F-16I, on a routine flight, experienced an unusual engine malfunction. The pilot decided to shut down the engine and made an emergency landing at the Ramon Air Force Base in the Negev.

Israel bought 102 two-seater F-16Is, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, in 2001. The plane reportedly has a 2,100 kilometer combat radius. After the emergency landing, Nehushtan decided to ground the planes so they could all be inspected. Military sources said the grounding would be lifted on Thursday morning.

This is the second time that the plane has been grounded. In March 2008, the IAF decided to ground all F-16Is after formaldehyde was found in the cockpit of one of the aircraft.The decision to suspend training flights was made after a number of pilots complained of a bad smell coming from the cockpit of one of the planes. The IDF Medical Branch conducted tests and discovered that the smell was caused by a type of formaldehyde known to be carcinogenic in high concentration.

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