Russian pilot missing after military jet crashes into Black Sea | News | DW | 26.03.2020
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Russian pilot missing after military jet crashes into Black Sea

The Russian military has deployed ships, helicopters and drones to look for a missing fighter pilot in the Black Sea after its Su-27 fighter jet went down off the Crimean coast. The rescuers face severe weather.

A fighter jet crash near Crimea prompting a large-scale rescue effort by the Russian military, involving several drones, four helicopters, and 11 civilian and military vessels, Russian official said on Thursday.

The Su-27 jet fell off the radar while flying a scheduled mission above the Black Sea on the previous evening, authorities said, without providing details on the assignment.

"Preliminary data indicates the plane has fallen into the sea," Russian military officials said after the incident.

Rescuers brave strong winds

The pilot's fate remains unclear. The plane's last location was recorded some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the city of Feodosia on the eastern coast of the Russian-controlled peninsula. On Wednesday evening, the authorities reported receiving a signal from an emergency radio beacon in the area, which they hoped was coming from the pilot's emergency rescue boat.

On Thursday, however, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the reports of the signal "have not been confirmed."

"The search for the pilot in the operating region has been made more difficult due to adverse meteorological conditions" including a severe storm with gusts of wind of up 17 meters (56 feet) per second, officials said.

Breakdown after breakdown

The Wednesday crash of the single-seat fighter jet is only the latest in the series of high-profile issues affecting Russia's jets and other advanced weaponry. Just hours before contact with the Su-27 was lost off Crimea, an L-39 training jet went down in the nearby Krasnodar Krai, with its sole pilot losing his life. In December last year, Russia's cutting edge Su-57 fighter jet went down during a training mission in the east of the country, with the pilot ejecting and surviving the incident.

Less than two weeks before that, a deadly fire broke out on Russia's only remaining aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, while it was docked for maintenance work in Murmansk. Also in 2019, an explosion at Russia's main nuclear weapons test facility claimed the lives of five nuclear scientists and sounded alarm bells across Europe over possible radiation, and a fire on a Russian military submarine killed 14 servicemen, almost all of whom were high-ranking and highly decorated officers.

dj/rg (AFP, Interfax)

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