Russian fighter-bomber crashes after ‘technical fault’

A blue-painted fighter jet banking against a grey sky
An Su-34 of the type which came down in North Ossetia - Oleg V Belyakov/Wikimedia Commons

A Russian air force fighter-bomber has crashed during a training flight in North Ossetia, killing both pilots, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.

The Sukhoi Su-34 jet came down “in a mountainous zone” and there was “no damage on the ground”, the ministry said, adding that a technical problem appeared to have caused the crash.

“The plane crashed in a deserted area. There is no destruction on the ground. The crew was killed,” the ministry said.

One Russian channel on the messaging app Telegram reported that residents near the village of Gorny Dzuarikau in North Ossetia heard an explosion in the night.

The Sukhoi Su-34 is a Russian all-weather supersonic fighter-bomber which has been used extensively during operations against Ukraine.

Among the most advanced aircraft in service with the Russian air force, the jets have recently found a new role on the battlefield, attacking Ukrainian positions and cities with devastating glide bombs during Moscow’s summer offensive.

An increase in accidents

The crash comes amid an increase in aircraft accidents in Russia that experts attribute in part to a shortage of necessary spare parts caused by sanctions imposed by the international community.

Analysts have also said that the high number of crashes reported may be due to restricted training time, a lack of experienced pilots, and dropping safety standards.

Other recent accidents have included the “technical malfunction” of an Su-34 in Sept 2023, and a Su-30 crashing during a training flight in Aug 2023, killing both crew members.

North Ossetia, which borders ex-Soviet Georgia, is about 500 miles from the front line in Ukraine.

On June 8, regional authorities said Ukraine targeted a military airfield near the town of Mozdok with drones – but three were shot down. It was the first such attack in North Ossetia since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.