Su-25 crashes in Russia's, pilot dies, flights suspended

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Moscow, Mar 20 (UNI) Russian Air Force has suspended all Su-25 strike aircraft flights following a fatal crash, in which the pilot died, in the Far East early today.

The pilot was killed as he had no time to bail out, Itar-Tass news agency reported quoting the territorial centre of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry.

The accident occurred in mid-air over a military range in the area of Lake Khanka.

Personnel of the Far Eastern Air Force and Air Defence units have launched a search-and-rescue operation.

''The commander of the Russian Air Force has ordered the suspension of Su-25 flights,'' Russian Air Force spokesperson Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

The Su-25 is a single-seat, twin-engine jet aircraft developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau to provide close air support for the ground troops.

The aircraft is reported to have experienced a number of accidents in operational service caused by system failures attributed to the salvo firing of weapons.

In the wake of these incidents, use of its main armament, the 240-mm S-24 missile, was prohibited. In its place, the FAB-500 500-kg high-explosive bomb became the primary armament.

The most recent crash involving a Su-25 plane occurred in June 2006 in southwest Russia near the border with Ukraine. The pilot died in the crash.

UNI XC SYU RS1636

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