JERUSALEM, Israel -- A routine training exercise ended in tragedy early Tuesday morning when a Cobra helicopter crashed, killing the pilot and navigator.
The accident occurred in southern Israel near Kibbutz Revadim as they were returning to the Palmachim airbase.
Lt.-Col. Noam Ron, 49, from Oranit, and Maj. Erez Flexer, 31, from Herzliya, were killed when their helicopter went down around 1:00 a.m. Both were experienced pilots, making a technical malfunction the likely cause of the crash.
Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel grounded the full fleet of Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopters until investigators clarify what took place, the IDF Spokesperson's Office said in a statement released early Tuesday.
"At approximately 01:00 a.m., contact was lost with the helicopter as it was en route from a routine training flight to Palmachim Airbase," the statement read. "At approximately 5:15 a.m., the remains of the helicopter were discovered and no survivors were found."
The Air Force relayed the sad news to the pilots' families.
Ron is survived by his wife, Ella, and three daughters aged 20, 17 and 16.
Flexer is survived by his wife, Merav, and a four-month-son named Uri.
On Monday, a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan killed all five U.S. troops on board.