The Russian air force has seen three crashes in the past week to include two fighter jets and one strategic bomber as the Russians have increased flying operations to counter the NATO coalition.
Many have speculated that the Russians lack of maintenance and upgrades to aging aircraft may catch up to them should Putin’s military be called upon to activate large portions of previously dormant forces.
Russia has cut back on military spending resulting in fewer upgrades to equipment and fewer trips to the depots for needed maintenance. Since Putin has ordered forces to the Ukrainian border, the U.S. and other European allies have stepped up their military presence. Russia has responded with repeated fly overs and additional high-end exercises that Putin has highlighted.
The wear from these additional missions could be showing as the Russians have grounded their Tu-95 “Bear” strategic bomber fleet after one aircraft caught fire during takeoff reportedly killing at least one crew member.
The other two prominent crashes occurred elsewhere in the country. A MiG-29 crashed June 4 near the coast of the Caspian Sea. Russia’s air force is investigating the cause and have grounded MiG-29 flights during the investigation.
A Russian Su-34 Fullback heavy strike fighter also crashed on June 4 in Voronezh — not far from the Ukraine border. The Fullback went off the runway after its brake parachute failed.
A Russian military expert at the UK’s Royal United Services Institute, Igor Sutyagin, told Newsweek that he thought the additional missions were adding up on Russian aircraft.
“This could be an interesting sign of the overstretching of Russian armed capabilities, because the maintenance template for these vehicles does not take into account the much higher operational tempo they have been operating under lately,” he told the magazine.
Below are two photos from the Su-27 Flanker post on the Fullback crash.
– Michael Hoffman can be reached at Mike.Hoffman@military.com