The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has grounded its fleet of the aging CH-53 transport helicopters, after the engine of one caught fire on Tuesday night, completely destroying the aircraft.
The IAF has launched an investigation and until it ends all the type were grounded.
Sources say that it was a “significant accident” due to a technical malfunction in the engine .
While the CH-53 helicopter was completely destroyed in the blaze after its engine caught fire following the emergency landing, all 11 soldiers from the elite Shaldag commando unit and two pilots onboard the aircraft made it out unhurt.
The helicopter was one of three en route to a base in southern Israel for a training exercise and was flying at a height of 170 meters when the third aircraft notified the pilots of the fire in the engine. The pilots carried out the emergency landing within a minute of the fire breaking out.
Though the IDF said the engine fire was the result of a “technical malfunction,” the military will be investigating what exactly caused it.
The accident happened while the IAF is still evaluating the two potential replacement for the aging CH-53. These are the CH-53K and the CH-47.
Sources say that the evaluation process is taking too much time and that a decision had to be made “months ago”.
By Arie Egozi
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