Israeli fighter jet crashes during training, crew missing

JERUSALEM: An Israeli air force F-16 crashed in the deserts of southern Israel while on a routine training flight, the military said today, adding that its two-man crew were missing.

Large forces were carrying out search and rescue in the area of the Ramon Crater looking for the pilot and navigator, an army spokeswoman said.

The fighter was a US-made F-16I, custom designed for the Israeli air force and believed capable of reaching arch-foe Iran. This was the first crash of the model.

Air force commander Ido Nehushtan has ordered an investigation into the accident and has temporarily grounded the F-16I fleet, the spokeswoman said.

The accident occurred on yesterday evening, but the military censor barred publication of the news until the families of the crew had been notified, standard practise in Israel.
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