Russia suspends flights of Su-27 fighters after crash
MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has suspended SU-27 Flanker fighter jet flights until the cause of a deadly crash earlier in the week is determined, a Defense Ministry official told RIA Novosti on Saturday.
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 from radar screens. The body of the pilot was discovered earlier on Saturday.
"Until the reason for the SU-27 crash in the Khabarovsk Territory becomes clear, all flights by this type of aircraft have been suspended," the spokesperson said.
The plane's flight data recorder has also been located and sent for analysis.
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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