JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli military helicopter crashed during a routine training flight, killing two crew members.
Lt. Col. Noam Ron, 49, of Oranit, and Maj. Erez Flekser, 31, of Haifa — both veteran military reservists — were killed when their Bell AH-1 Cobra crashed early Tuesday morning in southern Israel as it traveled from the training flight to the Palmachim Air Base. The families of the two pilots were notified.
A search for the helicopter began after radio contact was lost at 1 a.m. The remains of the helicopter were discovered at about 5 a.m., the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, the commander of the Israeli Air and Space Force, ordered an investigation and grounded all Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopters until the circumstances of the accident were clarified.
Cobras, which are manufactured in the United States, have been part of the Israeli Air Force since the mid-1970s, according to Haaretz. Some used first by the U.S. Air Force are nearly 40 years old, though they have been upgraded over the years.