Air Force admits mistake after eight fighter jets ‘drown’


Air Force admits mistake after eight fighter jets ‘drown’

The Israel Air Force has admitted its mistake for not moving all fighter jets from underground hangars ahead of intense rainfall last week, which led to damage to several F-16 fighter jets.According to a senior Air Force officer, 50 million liters of rain fell on the base between 5:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. last Thursday at Hatzor airbase in southern Israel, flooding aircraft runways and two underground hangars.According to a report on Channel 12, the water levels reached one-and-a-half meters inside the hangars leading to several mechanics needing to be rescued.”At 5:00AM on Thursday morning the base was dry, but within half an hour the base was flooded with 50 million liters of water. The water was crumbling even concrete walls,” he said.

According to a report on Channel 12, the water levels reached one-and-a-half meters inside the hangars leading to several mechanics needing to be rescued.Eight F-16 Sufa fighter jets were damaged from the rain, five of them suffering minor damage and three others more significant damage.“We were wrong to not evacuate those hangars,” he said. “It was a mistake and we will investigate the incident and learn lessons in order to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”The base and the squadron returned to operational duty on Sunday and every damaged plane is expected to be repaired and return to operational duty by next week.Despite damaging the planes, the flooding “did not harm the operational ability of the air force,” the senior officer said.While the damage caused to the aircraft was initially estimated in the tens of millions of shekels, the senior officer stated that it was lower than previously thought.Israel was hit by two severe and deadly winter storms last week which caused major flooding across the country. At least six people died, including a young couple who drowned in an elevator which had short-circuited in Tel Aviv. Several others lost their lives when their cars were swept away by storm waters in northern and southern Israel.National and Municipal rescue teams along with the Israel Police and firefighters scrambled all across the country to help people trapped in the floods. The IDF deployed military vehicles and troops from the Homefront Command as well as from the Armored Corps, Artillery, infantry and navy have been mobilized to help.The hangar is located next to two river streams and with last weekend’s heavy rainfall, caused them to overflow. While the base has flooded twice in the past, in 2013 and 2015, “the rain flooded the base like we’ve never experienced in the past,” he said.The senior officer stated the Air Force prepared for the storm on bases across the country, prioritizing human life, equipment as well as aircraft and operational infrastructure.After several days of trying to censor the news, on Sunday evening the military acknowledged that several of the planes had been damaged. Two unconfirmed photographs from the scene showed an F16 fighter jet in a flooded hangar.

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Author: The Jerusalem Post