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Soldiers Safe after Helicopter Scare in Romania

Two IDF helicopters land safely in Romania after running into technical trouble a week after six soldiers died in a joint training exercise.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/3/2010, 11:42 AM / Last Update: 8/3/2010, 12:00 PM

Two IDF Sea Stallion helicopters en route to Israel landed safely in Romania Tuesday morning after running into technical trouble a week after six soldiers died in a joint training exercise.

The IDF emphasized that the choppers did not have to make an emergency landing but touched down after discovering a malfunction. “The military's authorities have contacted the choppers' crews in order to help them fix the technical malfunctions and resume the flight,” spokesmen said.

Nevertheless, emergency rescue teams were on hand.

The joint training exercises in Romania have fueled speculation that they are geared to prepare Israeli pilots for a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The IDF has stated the training is routine.

The helicopter that crashed into a rocky cliff last week in foggy weather carried four pilots, two mechanics and a Romanian observer.

An officer who was part of the body identification team that flew to Romania to find and retrieve the remains of the soldiers told Israel National News that there were two helicopters flying in the area. He explained that the weather was unstable and that the choppers were suddenly caught in a cloud as they neared a several-mile long cliff in the Carpathian Mountains.

Radar equipment was not able to operate in the cloud. One of the helicopters flew straight up and out of the cloud and then saw he had no visual contact with the other aircraft. The pilot of the other helicopter either did not maneuver in time or simply continued forward.

The officer also said that his team was unable to remain at the site overnight because of the weather. They used ropes to climb the cliffs in order to retrieve the body parts, which later were identified as those of the soldiers.