IDF Central Command ordered on Tuesday night all its Yas'ur-type Sikorsky helicopters to be grounded till further notice, following a crash-landing earlier that day in the Negev desert.
Three firefighting teams were brought to the scene of the crash to put out the fire after the crew on board evacuated the plane, managing to do so in a short time and with no casualties.
A senior Air Force officer said that the crash occurred during a routine training flight, while three crewman and 11 Shaldag special forces fighters were on board.
"The unit was supposed to conduct military exercises in the south, the aircraft was part of a three-part wing," said the officer.
"The crew realized something was wrong after they heard a tapping noise, followed by an emergency light. The fire spread quickly and burnt the craft completely.
"The aircraft was 170 meters in the air during the malfunction and landed within a minute. The engine was rather new and there was no over-weight combat equipment on it", he said.
The reason for the crash, according to the officer, was a major malfunction in the aircraft's engine, leading to it bursting into flames.
The officer commanded the crew for their conduct during the incident, which according to him saved all those on board.
He then went on to say that a special unit was commissioned to investigate the flaw.
"We've never seen such a fault in these types of planes", he said.
The event occurred few days before the IDF will decide on the Yasur's replacement, the main candidates being the Lockheed Martin CH-53K "Super-Yas'ur" and the dual-rotor Boeing CH-47 Chinook.
The decision to do so the IDF and Airforce top-brass were made two years late, with most of the 60's made helicopters being long past their maximum flight usability.
Several incidents involving the plane malfunctioning have occurred in recent years, the deadliest being the 1997 IDF helicopter disaster, where due to navigational errors by the pilots and the on-board systems, 73 Israeli soldiers died in a mid-air collision between two choppers near the Lebanese border.
The disaster is the deadliest air accident in Israel's history.
The Yas'urs went through various rearmament by the IDF, but are considered outdated worldwide, with many spare parts not being produced anymore.
The issue is only exasperated by the fact that there is no stable government to approve the massive multi-billion-shekel acquisition for the new aircraft.
First published: 11:30 , 11.27.19