An ultra-light plane breached the Dimona nuclear facility airspace Tuesday. Israel Air Force jets were scrambled to intercept the aircraft, forcing it to land in an airfield near the southern city of Arad. The pilot was detained for questioning, then released.
The incident began to unfold after the IAF's air control unit spotted the plane. The civilian pilot, whose reason for breaching the no-fly zone is still unclear, also apparently failed to file the appropriate flight plan with the Civil Aviation Authority.
Once identified, two IAF fighter jets were scrambled out of a nearby air base. The pilots made eye contact with the civil craft, and escorted it to its landing site near Arad.
Police officers mat the pilot on the ground and ascertained his identity, also making note of his pilot's license details.
One of the security officers at the Arad airfield told Ynet the pilot was part of a group flying planes in the area. "He didn’t seem at all unnerved," she said. "I suppose he thought the police were going to arrest him, but they didn’t. He was very lucky – had he failed to properly identify himself he could have been shot down."
Military sources told Ynet that such incidents are not uncommon. The Air Force applies various actions to protect Israel's airspace and that of several sensitive locations, like the southern facility.
Jets are scrambled to meet any unidentified air craft flying in Israel's skies.
The Civil Aviation Authority said that the incident "ended uneventfully, and although the Civil Aviation Authority is not involved at this time it is likely to investigate."
Ilana Curiel and Yael Levy contributed to this report