Russian bomber crashes on takeoff from base in Far East region, both pilots killed

A Russian military aircraft crashed Monday while taking off on a nighttime training flight and both pilots were killed, the Defense Ministry said.

It was the fifth accident involving a Russian military aircraft in the past month, but the first with fatalities.

The Su-24 bomber crashed while taking off from an airfield in the Khabarovsk region in Russia's Far East at 9:35 p.m. local time, the ministry said in a statement. Shortly after leaving the runway, the plane banked sharply to the left and struck the ground, the ministry said.

The military said it has grounded its fleet of Su-24s until the cause of the crash could be determined.

On Friday, a MiG-29 fighter jet went down in southern Russia but the pilot ejected safely. Another MiG-29 crashed in southern Russia on June 4, its crew of two bailing out safely.

Also on June 4, a Su-34 bomber ran off the runway upon landing in the southwestern Voronezh region and overturned. The two crew members were unhurt in the accident, which the Defense Ministry said at the time was caused by a failure of the plane's breaking parachute.

On June 8, a Tu-95, a large four-engine bomber, ran off the runway in the Far East and several Russian crew members were injured. The cause was believed to have been a fire in one of the engines.