Sat, Jul 10, 2004
Unarmed bomber goes down near St Petersburg, crew failed to
A Russian TU-22 long range bomber with no military payload
crashed near Saltsy airfield in the Novgorod region, south of St.
Petersburg, late thursday night, after controllers lost contact
with it, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
The Interfax news agency reported that the crew was ordered to
bail out, but were not able to do so. Rescue crews found the
wreckage about six miles from the airfield just after midnight,
when they were also able to recover the bodies. At press time, the
flight data recorders had not been found but officials were hopeful
they would be shortly.
The aircraft was not carrying any weapons. As a precaution,
Russian air force officials have grounded all TU-22's pending an
investigation into the causes of the crash.
In recent years, the increasing age of Russian air force
aircrafts and the inabiliy to provide adequate pilot training have
been listed as contributing factors in an increasing number of
crashes involving military aircraft. Because of fuel shortages,
Russian pilots fly an average of 20 hours a year, compared to an
average of 200 hours a year that Western pilots fly to maintain
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