The pilots of two Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers that collided in Far East Russia have been pulled out of the sea alive, Russian media TASS Russian news agency cited the military as saying Friday. The ministry said it believes pilot error is to blame for the crash. The first pilot was reportedly recovered in satisfactory condition shortly after the collision. One of the Su-34s crashed and another landed with a failed engine, an unnamed source told Interfax earlier. The incident reportedly led the military to ground all Su-34 flights. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed less than an hour later that the second pilot was rescued as well.
The Sukhoi Su-34 (Fullback) is a Russian twin-engine, twin-seat, all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft. Based on the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker air superiority fighter, the Su-34 has an armored cockpit for side-by-side seating of its two-man crew. The Su-34 is designed primarily for tactical deployment against ground and naval targets (tactical bombing/attack/interdiction roles, including against small and mobile targets) on solo and group missions in daytime and at night, under favourable and adverse weather conditions and in a hostile environment with counter-fire and electronic Warfare (EW) counter-measures deployed, as well as for aerial reconnaissance. The Su-34 will eventually replace the Su-24 tactical strike fighter and the Tu-22M3 long-distance bomber.