Russian Defense Ministry continues search for Su-27 wreckage
MOSCOW, January 15 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Defense Ministry is still searching for the wreckage of the Russian Air Force Su-27 Flanker fighter jet, refuting earlier statements the plane was found, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The fighter had been performing a scheduled flight on Thursday and was about 30 km away from the Dzemga airbase in Russia's Far East when it disappeared off the radar screens.
"At approximately 20 kilometers from Dzemga airbase Russian Defense Ministry rescue teams have discovered the apparent crash site of the Su-27 Flanker fighter jet in the Khabarovsk Territory," Alexei Kuznetsov said. "A crater of 10 by 5 meters has been found," he added.
It was earlier reported that military rescue teams discovered the wreckage of the jet and were continuing the search for the pilot.
A military rescue team consisting of 12 members was sent to the site.
The Su-27 is a Mach-2 class air-superiority aircraft designed as a direct competitor for the heavy fourth generation Western fighters, such as the F-15 Eagle.
About 450 Su-27 aircraft have been built for the Russian Air Force since 1984, and over 200 jets have been exported to other countries, including China, Indonesia, Angola and some ex-Soviet states.
Russia used Su-27s to gain airspace control over Tskhinvali, the capital city of South Ossetia, during a brief war with Georgia in August 2008.
Last year there were at least two fatal crashes involving Su-27 fighter jets.
On August 30, 2009, a Belarusian Air Force Su-27 fighter crashed while performing aerobatic maneuvers at an airshow in Poland, killing two pilots.
Two Su-27 fighter planes collided in midair when the Russian Knights aerial display team was rehearsing for the MAKS 2009 air show outside Moscow. The group's commander, Col. Igor Tkachenko, was killed while two other pilots were injured in the collision.
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