Three Israeli Air Force officers have been officially censured for their role in failing to protect several aircraft subsequently damaged by flooding. Eight planes suffered $8.7 million in damage, but senior officers who oversaw the mishap have escaped reprimand.
When a deluge opened up over Hatzor Air Base near Ashdod on January 9, it dumped some 13 million gallons in roughly half an hour, sending nearby streams over their banks. However, IAF officers on duty failed to react to the danger the downpour posed to aircraft stored in dugout hangars, which turned them into giant puddles, partially submerging eight F-16 Falcon jets.
As a result, the squadron commander, maintenance squadron commander and aviation squadron commander have all been officially rebuked by IAF leadership, Air Force Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Nir Barkan told reporters Tuesday.
“The base was improperly prepared for the storm, though they anticipated it,” Barkan said. “They did not take all the necessary actions or give all the necessary instructions. Proper professional conduct in good time would have prevented or significantly reduced the damage.”
“We took care of the base’s plumbing in the past, but we definitely should have vacated the underground hangars,” an IAF officer told Tel Aviv daily Yedioth Ahronoth on January 13. “At 5 a.m. the base was dry, then half an hour later the entire base was flooded with … water in such intensity that concrete walls broke under the flood’s…