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Military confirms second body recovered from fighter crash

by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) Nov 12, 2010
The Israel military on Friday confirmed it had recovered and positively identified the body of a fighter pilot killed in a training exercise over southern Israel whom it had earlier listed as missing.

It said that Major Amihai Itkis, 28, would be buried later in the day. The body of the navigator, 30-year-old Major Emmanuel Levi, was identified on Thursday and is to be laid to rest on Sunday.

The men's advanced F-16I fighter crashed during combat training on Wednesday.

The military said it had retrieved the aircraft's "black box" flight recorder and media reports said it had been sent to Lockheed Martin, the plane's US manufacturer, for analysis.

Although there were no immediate indications of technical malfunction, the head of the Israeli Air Force, Ido Nehushtan, ordered the entire F-16I fleet grounded pending further checks, the military said.

The aircraft is custom-made to Israeli specifications and is believed to be capable of reaching arch-foe Iran. Israel has purchased 102 of them.

Last year one of the aircraft made an emergency landing after developing engine failure and in 2008 all the planes were grounded for about a month after excessive levels of formaldehyde were detected in the cockpit.

Israeli media on Thursday said members of the military rabbinate had found the body parts of the two men who killed when their fighter crashed in a mountainous region in the Ramon Crater in the southern Negev desert.

The accident occurred late on Wednesday but the military censor barred publication of the news until the families of the crew had been notified.

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