Russian Fighter Accidentally Bombs City Near Ukraine Border


Last Thursday, a Russian Sukhoi Su-34 fighter/bomber “accidentally” released unspecified ordnance that exploded on the streets of the Russian city of Belgorod, about 25 miles from the Ukraine border. Two days later, more than 3,000 citizens of Belgorod were evacuated after officials found another undetonated explosive. It’s not clear if the second weapon was also released from the Sukhoi, nor is it clear why the first weapon was released. Presumably, either the crew mistakenly thought they were over a target in Ukraine, or it might have been an emergency jettison as the fighter was en route to or returning from a mission over Ukraine, or some other reason.

Traffic-cam video published here by the BBC shows the initial impact as the first weapon hits the ground, followed 18 seconds later by the explosion, which reportedly tossed a car from the street onto the roof of a nearby building. One car can be seen on the busy street passing the site of the explosion just seconds before the blast. The car is lifted up by the force of the explosion but continues to drive away.

Though several buildings and cars were destroyed or damaged, there are no reported fatalities. Three were injured, according to reports by Russian news sources Tass and Ria Novosti. The Thursday incident was initially reported by Ria Novosti simply as an “explosion.” According to the Russian news service, Belgorod has been targeted regularly by attacks from Ukraine. Subsequently, however, Tass released a statement from the Russian defense ministry: “As a Sukhoi Su-34 air force plane was flying over the city of Belgorod there was an accidental discharge of aviation ammunition.” Video footage revealed a crater reported to be 65 feet in diameter.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. This sounds like they picked up the wrong target. Not an accidental release, but a deliberate release on the wrong target.

  2. The first sentence of the story states it was a SU-35. Then the Russian statement at the end of the story sates it was a SU-34. More than likely the Russians are right since the potency of the ordinance would fall more in line with what an SU-34 could deliver. I would have preferred to contact the author or Avweb directly rather than here in the comments section. I tried finding a contact us link on this website. Even the “contact us” link at the bottom of the page doesn’t work right.

      • How about the contact issue, Mark? I’ve run across this before here and it’s weird how hard y’all make it to contact you. While we’re on the subject, your ‘Advertise’ link at the top of the page is broken as well.

  3. A jettisoned bomb doesn’t go off because the final bomb arming step is bypassed in the jettison sequence. Consequently, this was a live drop.

  4. Buildings destroyed and no reported casualties? Sounds like someone doesn’t want to be embarrassed by the incompetence of one of their pilots

    • I’m not certain there is ever “friendly” fire…. all wars are the rich using the rest of us as pawns for their gain.

  5. I’m surprised they would admit this. Embarrassing. Possibly less embarrassing than admitting that the Ukrainians can return the favor of hitting their country.