A Russian Su-34 fighter bomber crashed in Russia’s North Ossetia, shortly after midnight Tuesday, killing both crewmembers in the side-by-side two-seat cockpit, Russia’s RIA Novostri reported citing the Defense Ministry.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the crash was caused by an alleged technical malfunction. The fighter bomber, valued at about $36 million, crashed in a deserted area.

The Russian Telegram channel Mash writes that the plane crashed during a routine training flight. Residents said that the incident occurred near the village of Dzuarikau, which is located near high terrain. An explosion was heard there at night.

The Su-34 fighter-bomber is designed to deliver precision strikes against ground targets in operational and tactical depth, as well as to engage air targets. The airplane’s crew consists of two people – a pilot and a navigator/weapons operator. The Su-34 can reach speeds of up to 1900 km/h at altitude and has a maximum ferry range without refueling of 4,500 km, with a typical combat radius of 1,100 km at medium altitude.

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Russia first used these aircraft in combat in 2008 during the invasion of Georgia, and later in Syria.

According to Channel 24, Russia has already lost at least 45 [Su-34s] during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine – most of them in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. One was shot down in the Chernihiv region and another in the Kyiv region. Several more were shot down in the Donetsk region.

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Perhaps the largest number of these aircraft were destroyed by Ukrainian forces in February and early March 2024, when the Russian Air Force lost 11 Su-34s.

This is not the first time that a plane crash has occurred in Russian skies, as Moscow often lacks the necessary parts to repair its aircraft after Western sanctions were imposed over the Kremlin's war in Ukraine.

However, as the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported last month, Russia has been circumventing international sanctions and has purchased nearly $500 million worth of aircraft components, including military ones, from abroad since 2022.

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The Russian-language edition of The Moscow Times disclosed details that Yakovlev, which produces Su-30 fighter jets and Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft, has purchased nearly $500 million worth of military equipment abroad since 2022.

Rostec's Yakovlev (formerly Irkut) mainly purchased components for radar equipment and programmable controllers for military aircraft.

And while technical issues may have been the cause of the crash, controlled flight into terrain is a common cause of tactical aircraft crashes, especially at night in mountainous terrain and in the vicinity of airfield while making landing approaches, which even if not causal could have been a contributing factor.

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