At 180 mph, just as they touched down, IAF crew forced to eject from F-16

Pilot, navigator ditch plane just as wheels hit the tarmac at Ramat David air base; no injuries reported; IAF grounds F-16s for technical checks

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet (photo credit: Ofer Zidon/Flash90)
An Israeli F-16 fighter jet (photo credit: Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

An Israeli Air Force pilot and navigator were forced to eject from their F-16 as it touched down during a landing attempt Wednesday at the Ramat David air base in the north of the country.

Neither airman was injured in the escape, but both were taken to the hospital for inspection.

An initial investigation suggested a technical problem with the plane’s landing gear, rather than any personal error. The IAF grounded its F-16s while it investigated whether there were wider technical problems.

The two were on a training mission and were landing the jet when they noticed a problem that meant they could not control it effectively.

Officials praised the pair for making a correct decision to eject, under immense time pressure.

The fighter jet made touchdown at 300 kilometers per hour (180 mph) when the pilot and navigator decided to bail out. The aircraft eventually came to a stop and suffered some damage. It did not collide with anything, and therefore the damage to the plane was not as serious as it might have been.

The eject operation on the plane lifted the pair into the air to safety.

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