Israel Defense Force (IDF)

Flying High: downed Israeli airman returns to the skies

The Israeli Air Force navigator who was lightly injured after ejecting his F-16 while on a mission over Syria, returned to the cockpit Sunday. He was accompanied on his first back-to-service practice flight by IAF Chief Major General Amikam Norkin.

The fighter jet was fired on while targeting Iranian targets in Syria as a reaction to an Iranian drone violating Israeli air-space by entering the country from Jordan earlier that night. Later this week Norkin is expected to be presented with the findings of an operational investigation into what caused the plane to be damaged and forcing the pilots to eject during the February 10th mission.

The was damaged when a surface-to-air missile, used by the Syrian army and produced in the USSR, exploded near the aircraft.

Initial findings have already suggested that the pilots should have been able to evade the missile, which is fairly old and IAF pilots are taught how to avoid it during their training. The findings said the pilots were briefed ahead of their mission on the missile threat and might have evaded it had they initiated the proper sequence of actions.

Another F-16, faced with a similar situation, was able to avoid being hit using these taught actions. It is possible that the air-men were so focused on their mission they didn’t notice the alert they are within range of the Syrian system.

The second pilot, who was more severely wounded, was discharged from hospital on Sunday and is recovering from his injuries.

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