The Russian Navy’s Admiral Kuznetsov air wing suffered its second loss in less than a month when a Sukhoi Su-33 ‘Flanker’ combat aircraft crashed into the sea following a landing mishap, the Kremlin confirmed on 5 December.
The multirole fleet defence fighter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Syria after one of the ship’s arrestor cables snapped, state media quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying. The accident happened just days after a MiG-29KR ‘Fulcrum’ was forced to ditch into the sea on 14 November after a problem with Admiral Kuznetsov’s arrestor cable had prevented it from landing before the pilot ran out of fuel. On both occasions, the pilots were rescued.
With these losses the carrier’s fixed-wing combat force of at least five Su-33s and four MiG-29Ks has been depleted by about 20%, just weeks into its much vaunted debut operational deployment.
While the ship was seen enroute to the Mediterranean carrying five Su-33s, four MiG-29Ks, one Kamov Ka-52K attack helicopter, two Kamov Ka-29TB assault helicopters, two Kamov Ka-27PS search-and-rescue helicopters, and one Kamov Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopter, satellite imagery taken of Humaymim Air Base in Syria on 20 November and obtained by IHS Jane’s showed a large proportion of these assets now operating from land rather than from Admiral Kuznetsov .