A CH-53 transport helicopter, known in Israel as the Yasur, made an emergency landing today near Beit Kama Junction in the south, after a fire broke out in the helicopter during flight.
After the emergency landing, the entire helicopter caught fire, but the helicopter crew managed to escape unscathed.
The IDF Spokesman said: "A Yasur helicopter recently reported a technical malfunction that caused motor combustion in the south of the country. There are no casualties and firefighting forces are in place to extinguish the fire. The incident will be investigated."
The Negev Police Department reported, "The Israeli police received a report of a military helicopter carrying out an emergency landing in the open areas of Kibbutz Ruhama. Police officers arriving at the scene gathered the crew members."
The Fire Services Spokesman said fire crews from Rahat stations were called in following the helicopter landing, and that firefighters are carrying out fire extinguishing and monitoring operations at the scene of the fire.
Israel obtained the CH-53 transport helicopter from the United States in the late 1960s. Despite having been in use for five decades, it is still one of the central aircraft in the Israel Defense Forces.
"The CH-53, known in the IAF as Yasur, has successfully been involved in a series of wars and complex military operations," wrote Ha'aretz' Yuval Azoulay. "This is thanks to its long life, ability to carry loads of up to 10 tons and option of deploying large numbers of troops to the field of battle. In the last decade, the IAF has devised a comprehensive plan to enhance its Yasur helicopters, by installing an advanced avionics system, estimating that the craft will continue to remain in operation for at least another 15 years. As part of this upgrade, the helicopters were also given the equipped with air-to-surface missiles for targets on the battlefield.
"But alongside its many successes in its IDF service, the American-made Yasur helicopter also has a long list of deadly accidents that have claimed many lives."