Three crew members of a Russian Air Force Tu-22M3 long-range bomber died in an ejection system accident at an airfield near Kaluga on Tuesday, the country’s defense ministry has confirmed.
According to the defense ministry, a sudden activation of the ejection system killed three of the aircraft’s four crew members.
According to information currently available, the ejection seats activated immediately after the engines started on the ground. As the altitude was insufficient for the parachutes to work, the pilots sustained fatal injuries upon landing.
The surviving pilot was transported to a medical unit at the Shaikovka air base, with an unknown degree of injuries.
According to local reports, the supersonic bomber accident killed the regiment commander and two of his subordinates.
Russia’s Tu-22M3 is variable-sweep wing long-range bomber with the capability to carry nuclear weapons. They are part of the Russian strategic bomber family, which also includes Tu-95 and the Tu-160 aircraft.
Tu-22M performed its first flight in 1977 and entered service in its final Tu-22М3 configuration in March 1989. A modernized variant of the bomber, which received the designation Tu-22М3М, flew for the first time in December 2018.
The accident on March 23 occurred days after the country announced a Tu-22M3 squadron exercise in the Kaluga region.