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11:57 AM, April 25, 2019
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MiG-31 interceptor aircraft (image: TASS)

The Russian MiG-31 crash that took place on April 26, 2017 happened when the fighter was shot down accidently by “friendly fire” during a routine training session near the Telemba proving ground in Siberia, an investigative report by Baza has claimed.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the pilots of the crashed MiG-31 supersonic interceptor had ejected safely.

“The fighter had been hit by an air-to-air missile launched from the second fighter, which also took part in the exercises,” Baza reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

“… the accident of the MiG-31 aircraft as a result of the crew’s violation of safety measures and missions for flight, expressed in the premature activation of the aircraft’s on-board radar station by the navigator and the unauthorized launch of the R-33 guided missiles by the commander of the MiG-31 fighter aircraft,” are excerpts from the leaked government document, according to the report.

The R-33 long-range air-to-air missile requires radar homing of the target when it is launched, so the navigator turns it on before the launch of the rocket. In a combat situation, the commander will have to make a decision on the launch himself – without the sanction of the command being on the ground and often not seeing the target.

The report from Russia’s state-owned aviation and space enterprises, Rosaviaprom, that Baza got its hands on, blames pilot error for the mishap. The crew of the crashed plane and the crew in the second MiG-31 taking part in the training exercise were both at fault, according to the report.

According to a report published by The Drive, the investigators concluded that the crew in the plane that got shot down had improperly followed procedures, allowing them to stray into the potential line of fire during the live-fire exercise. It also faulted aviators flying the other Foxhound for turning on their Zaslon-AM’s fire control function at the wrong time, cueing an R-33 missile right at their wingman. They further blamed the pilot for firing the weapon when this individual should have known they were not engaging a target drone.

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