Israel lifts grounding on F-16 and F-15 fleets

Tel Aviv
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Israel has resumed operations with its Lockheed Martin F-16I and F-15I combat aircraft, which have been grounded since an accident involving the F-16I on 7 July.

The F-16I Sufa was on a training flight when it crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, some 27nm (50km) off the coast of the Gaza Strip. Its two crew ejected safely and were subsequently rescued.

Early indications pointed to an engine failure as the likely cause of the mishap.

In the immediate aftermath of the crash Israeli air force chief Maj Gen Amir Eshel temporarily grounded all Sufa and F15I Raam training flights until an initial inquiry into the incident was completed. The jets share the same Pratt & Whitney F100 engines.

Although the investigation has not yet been formally concluded, the air force has decided to resume flights as the accident probe does not indicate a fault with the powerplants.