Major General Amikam Norkin, Commander of the Israeli Air Force, on Sunday visited Major ‘A., the pilot of the F-16 Fighting Falcon (Suffa) at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, and told him he supported the his decision to abandon the plane, saying, “You made the right decision and saved the life of the navigator, Major A, and your own life.”
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Fighter pilot Major ‘A., who was seriously injured, and his navigator, Major A., abandoned their plane after it had been hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire and later crashed in northern Israel last Saturday Morning.
The investigation team released a small portion of the testimonies given by the pilot and his navigator, who said, “We heard an explosion and realized that we were hurt. It is a very uncomfortable feeling, the loss of control.”
“The decision to eject is immediate, it’s not a lengthy process, and there’s no time for, there are only a few seconds,” they continued. “Our understanding was that we must hurry and abandon the plane, both as a result of the physical harm to us and the damage to the aircraft that had ceased to function.”
The F16 fighter jet was abandoned on Saturday morning, apparently hit be shrapnel from a Syrian, Russian made S-300 anti-aircraft missile. The pilot was seriously injured and the navigator lightly injured. They were evacuated by helicopter to Rambam Hospital. On Sunday, the pilot’s condition was improved to medium and stable, and the navigator was released from the hospital.
In 1998, when it was first produced, the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon cost $18.8 million, or $27.5 million in 2018 value.