Two fighters of the Russian Air Force have crashed while practicing aerobatic maneouvres near Moscow. The pilot of one of the two-seat fighters was killed, the other three aircrew ejected safely.
Index.hu says the two Sukhoi Su-27 aircraft crashed at the weekend in a village near Moscow, severely injuring a woman there.
The Su-27 fighters were part of the elite Russian Knights aerobatic display team. They were preparing for the upcoming MAKS-2009 air show, seen as the most important exhibition for Russia’s aerospace industry.
Associated Press (AP) quoted Russian Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Drik as saying the fighters collided near the Zhukovsky airfield, east of Moscow the site for the upcoming air show. The Kremlin added that the pilot who was killed was the aerobatic team’s commander, decorated air force officer Colonel Igor Tkachenko.
The Knights will nevertheless take to the skies later this week, where two new Russian aircraft will also be exhibited for the first time. The advanced multi-role Su-35 fighter and the Sukhoi Sperjet 100 passenger plane will both be shown. The Sperjet has been flown briefly before, at the Paris Le Bourget air show earlier this year.
MAKS-2009 usually exhibits the latest developments of the Szukhoi and Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) aircraft factories, including experimental aircraft. Visitors can also see various weapons systems, including Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) More than 100 countries are expected at the air show, including some 436 Russian companies, among them 120 from the defence industry. More than 100 aircraft are also expected to take part.
Russia’s new Su-35 fighter has been the subject of speculation in leading Western journals, such as Jane’s Defence Weekly, where an article on the impressive aircraft appeared recently.
Recently, Russian air force aircraft have had a series of accidents, apparently caused by the aging condition of many of the aircraft types. Two key fighter types, the Su-24 and the MiG-29 have both been grounded.
Earlier, former Communist Bloc countries swapped their MiGs for modern Western aircraft like the American F-16 Fighting Falcon or the Swedish Gripen multi-role fighter.