Flankers Grounded After Crash


The Russian air force has grounded its fleet of Su-27 fighters after an aircraft belonging to its Russian Knights air demonstration team crashed near Moscow on Thursday. Flankers make up about half of the fighter force. The crash occurred as the aircraft was returning to its base and wasn’t related to an airshow. The air force released a statement saying the aircraft was downed by an unspecified technical fault and that the pilot died in the crash because he steered the aircraft away from populated areas rather than eject. The rest of the Flankers will be grounded until the nature of the problem is determined. It was the fourth crash involving a military demo aircraft in a week.

The same day as the Flanker crash, a Patrouille Suisse F-5 went down after colliding with a team aircraft during a practice in the Netherlands. The pilot ejected safely. A week before, both the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels lost aircraft on the same day and the Angels pilot, Capt. Jeff Kuss, was killed. Although it hasn’t been confirmed by the Navy, there have been published reports that Kuss stayed with the aircraft to avoid populated areas rather than ejecting.