The commander of the Israel Air Force decided on Tuesday evening to ground the entire fleet of Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters (known as the “Yas’ur” in Hebrew) following the incident in which a fire broke out in the engines of one the helicopters, forcing it to make an emergency landing near the Beit Kama junction.
A senior Air Force official said that the response of the crew of the helicopter prevented a major disaster. The helicopter had three crew members and 11 fighters from the IDF’s Shaldag Unit.
"The crew, which included two pilots and an airborne mechanic, identified the malfunction and, from 170 feet above, quickly landed it and the entire crew was ejected," the source said.
The official added that the corps commander has appointed an investigative team to look into the incident and that it is already known that once the malfunction was discovered, it took the crew about a minute to land the helicopter, and the fighters who were aboard evacuated quickly before the fire consumed the helicopter.
"We are currently looking for a potential replacement helicopter and we did not need this incident to understand that the helicopter needed to be replaced," the official stressed.