The crash occurred during the multinational Clear Sky 2018 exercises, which involved military personnel from nine countries and were slated to wrap up this week.
The exercises focused on “air sovereignty, air interdiction, air-to-ground integration, air mobility operations, aeromedical evacuation, cyber defence, and personnel recovery,” US Air Forces in Europe said in a statement.
“This is the largest exercise in the last four years,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also said last week. “It involves more than 50 aircrafts from eight NATO member-states and our planes of the Ukrainian Air Forces.”
Among the participating aircraft were US F-15Cs, as well as Ukrainian Mig-29s and Su-27s.
Here’s what the Su-27 can do, and what we know about the tragic crash.
The Russian Sukhoi-27, which NATO codenamed “Flanker,” first flew in 1977, and later entered Soviet service in 1984.
In fact, the Flanker was developed a few years after the US introduced the F-15 and F-16, which had suddenly put Soviet pilots at a disadvantage. But the Su-27 subsequently helped level the playing field.
Designed as an interceptor and air superiority fighter, the highly manoeuvrable Su-27 has a top speed of about 1,800 mph and a maximum ceiling of about 59,000 feet.
The F-15, by comparison, has an edge on the Su-27 with its maximum speed of 1,875 mph and maximum ceiling of 65,000 feet.
The Flanker can be armed with up to 10 air-to-air missiles, including AA-10s and AA-11s. It can also be armed with FAB-100 bombs and one 30 mm GSh-301 cannon.
The F-15, however, can only be armed with eight air-to-air missiles, including four AIM-9 Sidewinders and four AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles or eight AIM-120 AMRAAMs. It’s also armed with an M-61A1 20mm, six-barrel cannon.
The Su-27 that crashed on Tuesday was a Su-27UB, which is a trainer variant.
The Su-27UB, which first flew in 1985, can be fitted with the same munitions and weapon control systems as the Su-27. But it has a few slight modifications, namely that it’s a two-seater instead of a one-seater.
Although details about Tuesday’s crash are still scant, the fact that the Su-27UB is a two-seater likely explains why both an American pilot and Ukrainian pilot were killed, given that the exercises were meant to bolster interoperability.
Source: Business Insider
“This is a sad day for the United States and Ukraine,” Maj. Gen. Clay Garrison, Commander of the California Air National Guard and the director of the Clear Sky exercises, said in a statement.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends and fellow Airmen of both the U.S. Airman and Ukrainian aviator who were killed in the incident,” Garrison said.
The crash is still under investigation, and the US pilot’s name is being temporarily withheld pending notification of next of kin.
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