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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Su-25 combat jet crashes in Russia's Far East, flights suspended

RIA Novosti

20/03/2008 09:26 MOSCOW, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Air Force has suspended all Su-25 strike aircraft flights following a fatal crash in the country's Far East early Thursday, an AF spokesman said.

A Su-25 Frogfoot close-support aircraft crashed Thursday in the Primorye Territory about 143 kilometers (90 miles) from the port of Vladivostok. The pilot died in the crash.

"Today, on March 20 at 3:33 Moscow time (0:33 GMT), a Su-25 aircraft crashed during a training flight near the Chernigovka airbase, 143 kilometers from Vladivostok," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

"The commander of the Russian Air Force has ordered the suspension of Su-25 flights," he said.

An investigation into the cause of the incident has been launched and a special investigation commission has flown to the crash site.

"According to preliminary reports, the plane developed technical problems during live firing exercises," the AF spokesman said.

The Su-25 is a single-seat, twin-engine jet aircraft developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau to provide close air support for the ground troops.

The aircraft is reported to have experienced a number of accidents in operational service caused by system failures attributed to the salvo firing of weapons. In the wake of these incidents, use of its main armament, the 240-mm S-24 missile, was prohibited. In its place, the FAB-500 500-kg high-explosive bomb became the primary armament.

Thursday incident is the first Su-25 crash in the past two years.

The most recent crash involving a Su-25 plane occurred in June 2006 in southwest Russia near the border with Ukraine. The pilot died in the crash.

On May 21, 2005, a Su-25 crashed in Tajikistan. The pilot managed to eject from the plane and an investigation later established that the accident had been caused by technical problems.

The Su-25 aircraft has been in service with the Russian Air Force for more than 25 years. In 1999, Russia adopted a program to upgrade part of its aging Su-25 fleet. The Russian AF received the first six modernized planes, Su-25SM, in December 2006.

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