Embarrassing Display: Russia’s Su-35 shot down a Su-30SM2

A Russian Sukhoi Su-30SM2 fighter jet that crashed this week may have been accidentally shot down by another Su-35 plane during exercises, the state-run TASS news agency reported Wednesday.

The Su-30 was on a routine training mission with two pilots on board Tuesday when it crashed near a village in the Tver region northwest of Moscow. The pilots ejected before the crash and were soon evacuated by a search and rescue helicopter.

While various media reports have confirmed the “blue-on-blue” incident, the possible explanations could vary since there has been no official statement.

Photo of destroyed Su-30SM2. Pilots ejected from the aircraft.

During the close combat dogfighting simulation, the Su-35S fired its gun, which hit the aircraft it was chasing – the Su-30SM2, which then crashed in a forest situated northwest of Russia’s Tver region.

The 6th Air Force and Air Defense Army — headquartered in St Petersburg — that is responsible for providing air power for the Western Military District operates the Su-30SM from Khalino air base near Kursk, suggesting this was the variant involved. Meanwhile, the district’s single-seat Su-35S fighters are stationed at Besovets and Khotilovo.

However, reportedly, when the Su-35S pilot marked the target and pressed the trigger to achieve his “kill,” he, not being aware that the aircraft’s had live ammunition rounds, fired a gun at the friendly Su-30SM, damaging it to the extent that it crashed.

“The preliminary cause of the accident is ammunition rounds accidentally hitting the Su-30 during exercises,” an unnamed source in the regional emergency services told TASS news agency.

“The shot was fired by another aircraft,” they added. 

Communication transcript

Russian television broadcaster played the transcript of the cockpit audio.

First, the command “Fire” sounds. After that, the pilot of the SU-35 was supposed to shoot a photo, however, instead of the camera, gatling gun went off.

– Report what happened?

– 348 had a gun fired.

Then the voice informant SU-30sm2 reports the failure of the aircraft’s hydraulic systems and loss of control. The crew decides to eject.

Su-30 crashed near the village of Dornikovo on September 22. During the flight, two military aircraft Su-30 and Su-35 practised the tactics of conducting air combat. The aircraft’s gun was supposed to be disabled, but for some reason, the SU-35’s “gun” went off.

– informs “112”.

The Defense Blog military news website previously reported, citing unnamed sources, that a Su-35 fighter jet may have fired at the Su-30SM2.

The Russians are also reportedly developed a newer variant of the Su-30SM, named the SM-2, which is fitted with new engine and tested against Su-35S, but miserably failed to achieve desired outcome at the training exercise.

The Su-30SM2 was built for Myanmar, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Armenia, — pitching newly built Su-30SM2 aircraft against Su-35S proved bad idea and bad publicity for Russian defense industries which is under pressure from the Western sanctions and stiff competition from cheap Chinese military hardware.

Su-30 is a fourth generation fighter. It is designed to destroy air targets at different times of the day and in different meteorological conditions, as well as against the background of the earth when using active and passive interference, airspace control and other purposes. 

The TASS source said the Su-30 pilots were in stable condition.

Considering it took almost two years for the truth to emerge about the inadvertent MiG-31 shoot down, and that there still remains no official confirmation about that incident, more details about what happened yesterday in the Tver region may also take some time to come out, if they ever do.

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