IDF troops said checked for radiation exposure after helicopter crash

IDF troops said checked for radiation exposure after helicopter crash

Blades of aircraft that caught fire Tuesday reportedly contained radioactive materials; examinations show soldiers, first responders not at risk

An IDF Yasur helicopter, April 19, 2018. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
An IDF Yasur helicopter, April 19, 2018. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A team of Israel Defense Forces soldiers underwent checks for radiation exposure due to fears they had been exposed to radioactive substances in a helicopter accident earlier this week, Channel 12 news reported on Friday.

The report said the army had determined after the checks that the 14 crew and passengers were not exposed to abnormal levels of radiation. First responders who came to the crash scene and residents of the area were also not at risk.

The blades of the aircraft contain radioactive material that can break down in a fire, the report said.

On Tuesday an engine fire forced an emergency landing of a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter, known in Israel as a Yasur. The helicopter had been en route to a base in southern Israel for a training exercise.

The 14 soldiers who were on board made it out of the helicopter unscathed, landing in a field outside the community of Beit Kama, near Rahat, in the northern Negev desert.

The Israeli Air Force grounded its fleet of the heavy transport helicopters after the incident. A senior IAF officer said the military was launching a full investigation into the accident to determine what caused the engine fire.

The helicopter appeared to be completely destroyed in the blaze.

Israel’s fleet of Yasur heavy transport helicopters was purchased from the United States in the late 1960s. Though the aircraft have been upgraded and restored in the interim five decades, they are widely seen in the military as ready for retirement, in favor of newer models.

In 2010, an IDF Yasur helicopter crashed during a joint exercise of the Israeli Air Force and Romanian Air Force, killing the five people on board. That crash was found to have apparently been caused by human error.

After a CH-53 in the US military crashed in 2013, the US Marines said that the aircraft’s blades contained negligible amounts of a low-level radioactive isotope called Strontium-90, according to the Stars and Stripes news outlet. Strontium-90 is used to monitor the integrity of rotary blades in some helicopters.

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