Russian Su-33 crashed in the Mediterranean while attempting to land on Kuznetsov aircraft carrier

Less than three weeks after losing a MiG-29, it looks like the Russian Navy has lost another aircraft during Admiral Kuznetsov operations: a Su-33 Flanker.

Military sources close to The Aviationist report that a Russian Navy Su-33 Flanker carrier-based multirole aircraft has crashed during flight operations from Admiral Kuznetsov on Saturday, Dec. 3.

According to the report, the combat plane crashed at its second attempt to land on the aircraft carrier in good weather conditions (visibility +10 kilometers, Sea State 4, wind at 12 knots): it seems that it missed the wires and failed to go around* falling short of the bow of the warship.

The pilot successfully ejected and was picked up by a Russian Navy search and rescue helicopter.

Considered that on Nov. 14 a MiG-29K crashed while recovering to the aircraft carrier, if confirmed this would be the second loss for the air wing embarked on Admiral Kuznetsov in less than three weeks and a significant blow for the Russian Naval Aviation during its combat deployment off Syria.

*Update: the Russian MoD has confirmed the incident. According to an official release the arresting wire snapped and failed to stop the aircraft.

Image credit: Russian MoD



About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Thank our lucky stars it’s no a Nuclear powered carrier.
    This is the contributing factor


    Weight (empty) 18.4 tons


    Empty weight: 23,049 lb or 11 tons

    almost twice the wieght on the arresting cable.

    Same issue they had back in 05 with the same plane.

    She’s 10 tons too heavy.

  2. SU-33 was Russia’s answer to the F-111. A very large and very sophisticated interdiction weapon. It’s barely still an SU-27 derivative with side by side seating and even a toilet.

    • You call 26 million dead Russian people in WW2 “the good ‘ole days”? *facepalm*

      • C’mon. I’m talking about their military readiness/glory days, not the deaths. Don’t forget, from a guy (Stalin) who killed upwards of 15 million of his own pre WW2, another 26 for such a grand purpose wasn’t considered that big of a sacrifice. Times were certainly different then.

  3. I knew that our SU-xx, MiG-xx and T-50 (of course!), dominating in the air … But shit happens (thank you Tom Hanks)

  4. I am certainly no fan of the Russians, but to smirk about this as some here are doing is beyond the pale. I’m glad the pilot is OK. Seems to be a fault with the arresting cable but there are hundreds of things that have to go exactly right to land on a Carrier. I’ve only ever done it on full motion simulators (was given the chance but somehow nobody would trust me with their F-14 to try it out for real! :-) but I can tell you that it is no small feat and anyone who does this day in and day out has “the right stuff”. I did a bunch of night traps in stormy weather and I was completely done after that… I can just imagine what it would have been like in a real jet away from land when you know it’s catching that cable or an eject knowing you might not get picked up. My hat is off to all Naval aviators no matter what flag they fly under.

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