Russian Air Force lifts ban on Su-25 flights

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Moscow, Mar 27: Russian Air Force has lifted the ban on the flights of Su-25 strike aircraft which was imposed after a fatal crash in Russia's Far East last week. ''All restrictions on flights of aircraft of Su-25 have been lifted," the spokesman for the Russian Air Force Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said yesterday.

Flights are being conducted according to the planned schedule, RIA Novosti quoted Drobyshevksy as saying. The Air Force had suspended all Su-25 flights after a Su-25 Frogfoot close-support aircraft exploded in the air on March 20 during a live firing exercise over the Primorye Territory, about 143 kilometres from the port of Vladivostok. An investigation into the cause of the incident has been launched and a special investigation commission has been working at the crash site for a week.

Earlier findings suggested that the explosion of a rocket launched from the plane during a midair live firing exercise caused the crash, but yesterday a source close to investigation said that the aircraft was downed by a missile accidentally launched by a wingman from an accompanying plane.

However, Drobyshevsky warned against jumping to any conclusions until the official investigation is complete. ''The investigation is still under way," he said. An official announcement about the cause of the crash can only be made by the head of the special investigation commission after the investigation is complete, he added.

The Su-25 is a single-seat, twin-engine jet aircraft developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau to provide close air support for 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. However a small group of Su-25s will take part in a parade at Red Square on the Victory Day on May 9.


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