The Russian Air Force started deploying their most advanced fighter bomber, the Su-34, against Ukraine as early as March 2022. However, Moscow’s Su-34 has met with several tragedies – either going down in a crash or being shot down by Ukraine.
In the latest instance, the aircraft rammed into a residential building.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced that one of its Su-34 fighter bombers crashed in Yeysk in southern Russia after one of its engines burst into flames on October 17, TASS News Agency has reported.
“On October 17, 2022, a Su-34 aircraft crashed upon a climb during its training flight from a military airfield in the Southern Military District. The plane crashed within the city limits of Yeysk,” the ministry said in a statement.
According to Russia’s account, the bomber crashed into the courtyard of a residential building. “The plane’s fuel caught fire after the Su-34 crashed into the courtyard of a residential building,” the ministry said. At least 13 people were killed, and 25 others were injured in the accident.
A Russian Su-34 reportedly crashed in Yeysk, Krasnodar Krai. pic.twitter.com/7EAFNgL30w
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) October 17, 2022
Russia’s Emergency Services Minister Alexander Kurenkov said on October 18 that there was no explosion after a Su-34 fighter jet crashed in the courtyard of a residential building in the southern Russian town of Yeysk.
On October 17, a fighter bomber was training when one of its engines caught fire, and upon a climb, the aircraft crashed into a residential building in Yeysk. The fire caused by the fuel leak at the time of the collision destroyed the multi-story residential buildings nearby. The pilots, though, ejected safely.
“According to the report of the ejected pilots, the cause of the plane crash was the ignition of one of the engines during take-off. At the site of the crash of the Su-34 in the courtyard of one of the residential quarters, the plane’s fuel ignited,” the ministry said in a statement to RIA.
Bugün düşen Rus Su-34 savaş uçağının kurtulan pilotlarından birinin ilk anları videoya yansıdı pic.twitter.com/ZigU8eBX7Z
— Dr. Ahmet Şahidov (@shahidovcom) October 17, 2022
The Su-34, a supersonic, twin-engine fighter-bomber that has become a mainstay of the Russian Air Force, was flying low over the area in the first place, which could be explained by the crash site’s proximity to a nearby air base.
The Su-34 most likely took off from the Yeysk Airfield. With 10 Su-34s visible on October 6, satellite imagery reveals that the Yevsk Air Base has grown into a significant Su-34 forward operating base.
Yeysk, a port city on the Sea of Azov, is a short distance from the southern Ukrainian region that Russia has captured. Images and videos from the crash’s aftermath showed the residential neighborhood engulfed in flames and billowing smoke. According to officials, a building home to hundreds of people later caught fire.
Krasnodar regional governor Veniamin Kondratyev refuted local claims that the aircraft had been loaded with ammunition. If that had been the case, then only half the building would be here,” he told reporters. The condition of the ejected pilots remains unknown while writing the report.
However, the aircraft crash is noteworthy as Russia has been conducting an intense aerial bombardment of Ukrainian cities. In addition, this is not the first time this Russian fighter jet has met this fate during this war. There have been several such incidents in the past.
Debilitating Track Record Of Su-34
The Su-34 Fullback is a twin-seat, all-weather supersonic fighter-bomber/strike aircraft produced by Sukhoi and is based on the company’s Flanker family of air superiority fighters. It made its maiden flight on April 13, 1990, and entered operational duty with the Russian Air Force on March 20, 2014.
The aircraft was developed to perform tactical missions against ground-based and marine targets, aerial surveillance, and fighting in hostile or degraded situations with adversary electronic countermeasures (ECM) and air defense (AD) systems.
According to reports, Russia has lost about 10% of its total Su-34 strike fighters in the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
According to Key Aero, 16 confirmed Su-34 combat losses had been registered during the conflict as of October 10, 2022. If that figure is authentic, the number stands at 17 with the latest Su-34 crash.
This number includes 15 standard Su-34s and a purportedly upgraded Su-34M, though it is more likely a baseline Fullback that has undergone minor modifications to enable it to carry a recce pod. This is because the M-standard variant is thought to still be in the early stages of development and testing.
In March this year, when the invasion was in a very nascent stage, and the Russian forces had overpowered Ukraine with aerial bombardment, a Ukrainian citizen took his rifle and shot at a Su-34 fighter flying over Cherhiniv.
In a video that went viral online, there was a clip purportedly showing the moment when Fedorovych successfully hit the Su-34 jet, and the aircraft started descending with smoke emerging from it.
Later in July, EurAsian Times reported that one of Russia’s Su-34 Fullback strike fighters was shot down by the Russian forces as it passed over the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. The shoot-out was a case of friendly fire that struck Russia’s most advanced strike fighter.
At one point in the conflict, the then British Defense Minister Ben Wallace claimed that Russian fighter pilots flying Su-34 fighters in Ukraine were using basic GPS receiver devices taped to the dashboards because of the poor quality of their in-built navigation systems.
During the war, several Russian fighter jets were shot down by Ukraine’s air defense systems and widespread use of Man Portable Air Defense Systems.
While Russia tried, it could not establish complete air superiority due to its inability to perform SEAD missions. Su-34 is one of the most widely deployed fighter jets in the war, which justifies the heavy casualties the aircraft has suffered.