According to an Israeli Air Force investigation, the pilot and navigator of the fighter jet that was downed by Syrian fire about two weeks ago made an operation error and failed to address the incoming threat of enemy missiles. However, the investigators determined that they made the correct decision when they ejected from the aircraft.

The remains of the F-16 that crashed near the Israeli town of Harduf

The remains of the F-16 that crashed near the Israeli town of Harduf Photo Credit: Anat Hermony/Flash 90

The pilot of the Israeli fighter jet that crashed in Israel about two weeks ago made an operational mistake, which led to the downing of his plane by Syrian fire, according to the military. On Sunday, the IDF Spokesperson released the findings of the investigation into an Iranian drone’s infiltration of Israeli airspace and the downing of the F-16, which had carried out a strike in Syria in response to the breach of Israel’s sovereignty. 

The findings showed that the preparations for the strike were carried out correctly and resulted in a successful mission—the complete destruction of the predetermined targets in Syria. The jet was one of several aircraft that were sent to carry out the mission.

After examining the downed plane’s systems, the Israeli Air Force reached the conclusion that they functioned properly and gave the pilot and navigator information about the threat of Syrian missile fire in time.

According to the findings, the pilot and navigator did not take the proper evasive measures, opting to complete their mission instead of protecting their aircraft from the enemy missiles. “His [the pilot’s] actions did not match the order of priorities required for the missile threat in which he was,” the report stated.

However, the report stressed that despite the pilot’s error, which resulted in the aircraft sustaining Syrian fire and crashing, the crew’s decision to eject from the plane was the correct course of action.  

“The team did not address the threat and thus [the aircraft] was hit. He [the pilot] made a mistake,” a senior IAF official said, criticizing the investigation’s findings. “They should have abandoned the mission and addressed the incoming threat. Their decision did not suit the threat.”

“The mission was carried out, but the plane should not have been downed,” he concluded.