Moments before an Israeli military helicopter blew apart in flight and plummeted into the Mediterranean, the brigadier general piloting the chopper radioed he had the situation under control.

The army said Monday it had recovered the bodies of Brig. Gen. Tal Shmuel Eldar, 45, one of the highest-ranking Israeli officers ever killed in a military air accident, and 2nd Lt. Ilan Gur, 20. Gur earned his wings less than two months ago.The explosion occurred Sunday as the U.S.-made Cobra attack helicopter was returning to the air base near Tel Aviv where Eldar was commander after advanced training exercises.

The pilot of another helicopter said he saw the Cobra's tail shaking before it suddenly swerved hard, lost speed and "fell apart."

The air force grounded its entire Cobra fleet while the accident is under investigation.

Even though the watching crew of the second helicopter knew there was almost no chance Gur and Eldar could have survived the explosion and plunge into the sea, they made a desperate attempt at rescue.

On March 1, an Israeli F-15 fighter crashed during a training flight, killing the pilot and navigator.