Three Russian nuclear bomber air crew killed in ejector seat accident

Three Russian nuclear bomber air crew are killed when their ejector seats accidentally go off just before take-off

  • The incident happened on Tuesday at the Shaikovka military airfield
  • The Russian defence minister has confirmed the death of the three crew members 
  • The supersonic long range Tu-22M3 bomber was not thought to have been loaded with nuclear weapons at the time of the incident

Three crew members of a Russian nuclear bomber have been killed after the ejector seat system was reportedly accidentally triggered as the plane prepared for departure.

The incident happened on Tuesday ahead of a training flight involving supersonic long range Tu-22M3 bombers at Shaykovka military airfield. 

A report said the three crew were catapulted into the air but the height was insufficient to deploy parachutes. They hit the ground sustaining injuries ‘incompatible with life’.

The Russian defence minister confirmed the deaths of three crew members.

The plane was not believed to have been loaded with nuclear weapons at the time of the incident at the airfield, which lies some 200 miles southwest of Moscow. 

Three crew members of a Russian nuclear bomber have been killed in an appalling incident today when the ejector seat system was reportedly triggered as the plane prepared for departure. Three crew members of a Russian nuclear bomber have been killed in an appalling incident today when the ejector seat system was reportedly triggered as the plane prepared for departure. [Stock photo]

The regiment commander was sitting in the instructor’s seat and was among those killed.

Earlier reports said that a squadron of Tupolev Tu-22M3 (NATO reporting name: Backfire-C) had been on a training exercise in Kaluga region. 

Pilots from the squadron were recently given Covid-19 jabs to be able to participate in Russia’s May 9 Victory Day parade, marking the end of the Second World War.

Three years ago, a Tu-22M3 broke in two and erupted in flames as it crash landed in the Arctic.

In 2004, a Tu-22M3 crashed in the Novgorod region, killing all four crew members.

The Tupolev bomber – an aircraft in service since the Soviet era – can strike targets 4,350 miles from base, and is a key war plane for potential deployment against the West. It has a crew of four. 

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