Russian Su-34 fighter jet crashes into a residential building near Ukraine

Russian authorities cite engine malfunction for the mishap.
Ameya Paleja
Russian Air Force, Sukhoi Su-34
Russian Air Force, Sukhoi Su-34

Russian Air Force/Wikimedia Commons 

A Russian Su-34 aircraft crashed into a Soviet-era residential building in Yesyk in southern Russia shortly after taking off from a nearby airbase. Moments later, the building turned into a giant fireball and, as recent reports, has claimed at least 13 lives while injuring 19, South China Morning Post reported.

As the conflict in Ukraine is about to enter its ninth month, the fighting has become more intense recently, and Russia has been attacking Kyiv with kamikaze drones. While Russia's advances have reportedly suffered the loss of men and machinery at the hands of Ukrainian forces, non-combat incidents have also increased at the Russian end.

Since February 24, the day Russian troops invaded Ukraine, the aggressor country has seen ten non-combat crashes of warplanes, including the Su-34 mishap, NPR reported.

What is Su-34?

The Su-34 is Russia's most advanced fighter aircraft currently in deployment. The aircraft, referred to by NATO as Fullback first took flight under the Soviet regime in 1990 but, after the fall of the Soviet Union, took nearly two and half decades to enter service.

The Su-34 is a twin-engine, twin-pilot, and supersonic strike aircraft. Powered by Saturn AL-31 turbofan engines, the aircraft has a cruise speed of 800 miles (1,300 km) an hour and can race to 1,200 mph (1,900 km) an hour (Mach 1.8) at altitudes. The Su-34 is designed and built to carry a large spectrum of armaments ranging from guided bombs to air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, and cruise and anti-radiation missiles.

The Su-34 has a service ceiling of 56,000 feet (17,000 m). So, why was it flying so low that it hit a nine-story building?

Reasons for Su-34 crash

Yeysk is a coastal city on the Sea of Azov. Across the Sea is the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been under Russian control. The airbase at Yeysk has been quite active in recent times and has become a base for the Su-34 aircraft, with as many as ten photographed by satellites earlier this month, The Drive said in its report.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the aircraft was on a training sortie when one of its engines malfunctioned and caught fire. The pilots managed to eject safely moments before the plane slammed into the building. It is not clear if the aircraft was carrying any of its armaments. However, the Su-34 has the largest fuel-carrying capacity of any other tactical jet being flown today.

As we have seen, a crash during take-off when the aircraft is fuelled up is likely to lead to giant fireballs. Five floors of the building were on fire that encompassed an area of over 21,500 feet, SCMP report said.

A #Russian fighter jet crashed into a residential building during training flight in the southern #Russian city of #Yeysk on Monday. Russian Defence Ministry said that Yeysk plane crash was caused by engine fire#russia #kyiv #anews pic.twitter.com/f0oHvjfuPk

After the fire was put out, authorities completed the search of the rubble to find a total of 13 bodies, including three children, NPR said. Russia has opened a criminal investigation into the crash.

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