IAF commander tells wounded pilot he 'made the right decision'

IAF Commander Amikam Norkin praises wounded pilot for deciding to eject, says he 'saved his navigator's life and his own life.'

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Ido Ben Porat,

Amikam Norkin with the wounded pilot
Amikam Norkin with the wounded pilot
IDF spokesperson

IAF Commander Amikam Norkin visited the pilot who was seriously wounded when his F-16l fighter plane was hit while flying over Syria on Saturday.

During his visit to Rambam Medical Center, Norkin told the pilot that "from the moment you understood that you had to abandon the plane, you made the right decision and saved the navigator's life and your own life."

The pilot, who was listed as seriously wounded at first, is now in moderate condition. The navigator, who was lightly wounded, returned home Sunday afternoon.

The pilot recounted to Norkin his ejection from the plane and his feelings in the moments prior to making the decision together with the navigator. The IAF is currently investigating what caused the surface-to-air missile to hit the plane without activating the plane's defense system. Among the possibilities are technical failures, as well as the option that the crew were so absorbed in their mission that they did not realize they had to activate the defense system.

The IAF expects to publish an initial report on Monday, and rumors say the conclusions will be dramatic and force the IAF to make decisions regarding further use of the F-16I fighter jet.