Israel has lost its front line F-16I fighter on Wednesday and the pilot died following a strike mission in Gaza.
The pilot and navigator were returning to their home base southwest of Beersheba around 5 p.m. when, “for some reason, they felt the need to eject,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman.
As the jet caught fire shortly before the pilot ejected, he was killed while the navigator suffered only light injuries, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.
While an investigation is on, If the incident turns out to be the result of human error, the air force would unlikely be grounding its F-16I fleet.
The lost fighter was part of a considerable force package dispatched Wednesday in response to a Gaza-launched rocket that landed in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.