Romanian and Israeli search and rescue teams Tuesday recovered seven bodies from the wreckage of the Israeli Air Force CH-53 Yasur transport which crashed Monday afternoon, July 26, with no survivors. The helicopter crashed Monday afternoon in the lofty Carpathian Mountains near the central Romanian town of Zarnesti, 120 kilometers northwest of Bucharest in the last stage of a joint Israeli-Romanian Blue Sky 2010 military drill. Six Israeli Air Force servicemen and one Romanian Air Force captain were lost.
Their names were released after their families were informed.
Lt.-Col.(Res.) Avner Goldman, 48, from Modi'in.
Lt.-Col, (Res.) Daniel Shipenbauer, 43, from Moshav Kidron.
Major Yahel Keshet, 33, from Hatezerim.
Major Lior Shai, 28, from Tel Nof.Lieut. Nir Lakrif, 25, from Tel Nof.
Lt. Nir Lakrif, 25, from Kiryat Ata.
Sgt. Maj. Oren Cohen, 24, from Rehovoth.
And Stefan-Claudiu Dragnea, 31, a captain with the Romanian Air Force Staff.
The high ranks of the victims indicate the special nature of the training they carried out and imparted to the Romanian Air Force. Capt. Dragnea was an instructor at the Romanian Air Force flying school.
Although radio contact with the CH-53 was lost Monday afternoon, Romanian and Israeli search and rescue teams only reached the Carpathian mountain site Tuesday midday, severely hampered by the precipitous terrain and heavy mist enveloping the 2,200-meter high crash site. They found the wreckage scattered over a wide, rocky area.
It was part of a two-helicopter flight taking part in an exercise practicing low-altitude missions.
Two Israeli Hercules transports carried rescue teams and identification experts to the crash site.
Israeli Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Nehushtan and Romanian defense minister Gabriel Obrea have launched a joint investigation into the disaster.
Israeli and Romanian defense sources noted that on July 18, when the exercise began, a CH-53 made a crash landing after "sensing a failure aboard."
debkafile's military sources report: Israel was revealed for the first time to be conducting joint air force exercises with NATO members Romania, as well as Bulgaria and Greece. Big American Air Force bases serve Israeli air drills in Bulgaria and Romania. They have replaced the facilities Turkey closed to Israel. They also serve the Israeli Air Force for practicing long-distance flights, an essential element in a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.