F-35 pilot grounded after causing sonic booms over north, startling residents
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F-35 pilot grounded after causing sonic booms over north, startling residents

Military says noise was caused by fighter jet going faster than permitted during a training exercise

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: An Israeli Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter jet takes part in a graduation ceremony for IAF pilots at the Hatzerim base in Israel's Negev desert on December 26, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Illustrative: An Israeli Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter jet takes part in a graduation ceremony for IAF pilots at the Hatzerim base in Israel's Negev desert on December 26, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The Israeli Air Force on Wednesday grounded a pilot who caused sonic booms over northern Israel the night before, startling residents of the area.

The sonic booms, which are caused by aircraft when they exceed the speed of sound, were heard in the northern port city of Haifa and the Jezreel Valley.

Residents of the areas, hearing what sounded like large explosions at approximately 10 p.m., feared that some type of attack or emergency was taking place, prompting panicked posts on social media.

“What’s that crazy boom that was just heard in the area of Haifa and the Jezreel Valley?” wrote a presenter on Israel Radio.

On Wednesday morning, the military confirmed that it was responsible for the noise, saying it was caused by “a pilot exceeding the speed limits for a flight during a training session of fighter jets in the area.”

The IDF added: “The pilot has been grounded.”

The F-35 is considered Israel’s most advanced fighter jet, with state-of-the-art stealth capabilities and powerful onboard computers that connect it to other aircraft in the sky.

Israel has signed deals with the United States to purchase 50 F-35 jets, enough for two squadrons, and is considering purchasing more.

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