Veteran IDF pilot dies in crash during training exercise

The IDF is investigating a tragic incident in which a veteran helicopter pilot died in a crash during a training exercise.

The IDF identified 43-year-old Maj. David “Dudi” Zohar from Haifa as the pilot killed Monday night when his Apache military helicopter crashed near the Ramon Airbase in southern Israel.

The helicopter’s navigator, who was seriously wounded in the training accident, remains in critical condition at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. Hospital spokespeople told TPS the navigator, who has not been named, underwent surgery overnight and is under observation in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

IDF officials said in a statement that the accident is under investigation. According to initial reports, the helicopter was on its way back to base from a training flight when the pilot reported a technical failure and tried to land. A few minutes passed between the initial report of the technical failure and the crash.

The Apache squadron was grounded in mid-June after a crack was found in one of the rear rotor blades of one of the helicopters in the squadron. It is unclear whether the rotor crack was in any way related to Monday’s accident.