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10:13 AM, January 18, 2019
Russian Su-34 Fleet Grounded After Two Aircraft Collide
Su-34 Fighter-bomber (image: Sukhoi)

The Russian Su-34 fleet has been grounded after two of the jets collided mid-air while training over Sea of Japan on Friday.

"On 18 January, at 8:07 (Moscow time), while performing a planned training flight over the Sea of Japan, 35 kilometers from the coast, two Su-34 planes of the Far Eastern Air Defence Forces made contact in the air while manoeuvring," Russian media quoted Department of Information and Mass Communications of the Russian MoD as saying.

"The aircraft crews have ejected. An AN-12 and two Mi-8 helicopters from the Search And Rescue forces are searching for the pilots in the area where they ejected. The planes performed the flight without ammunition," the Russian MoD said in a statement.

One of the pilots of the Su-34 bomber that crashed in the sea in Russia's Far East has been found by the rescue crew, on an inflatable raft in the sea as he was flashing the emergency light said the Russian Defence Ministry added. He added that Strong winds are hampering the rescue operation but they expect to reach the other pilot soon.

The 45 ton, Mach 1.8-capable Russian Su-34, designed to carry up to 8 tons of weaponry, has a tactical radius of 4,000 km, and a flight ceiling of 18,000 meters. The aircraft can also be equipped with up to three additional fuel tanks, allowing it to fly 8 hours without refueling.

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