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. Keep ’em flying. Before long, they won’t need aircraft carrier as hey will be out of carrier capable aircraft.

  2. It is an old flattop, and most reports about it tend to state its well and truly overdue for overhaul, worn out equipment and carrier opps dont mix.
    Feel for the pilot.
    Were this the cold war, likely Israeli assets would be activated to fish these 2 planes out of the sea once the Russian presence moves on, now, in 2016, when no western power realistically feels threatened (outside the tabloid headlines, like, FOX, or CNN) by Russian power, i dont know that they’d bother. Sure would be interesting exercise though.

  3. I saw a Russian media report on the MiG-29 crash which stated that the aircraft was recovered from the Mediterranean. Is that possible? Wouldn’t it go to the bottom immediately? In any event, Russian reports on the Su-33 crash make no claim about recovery of the aircraft, so presumably it is a loss.

  4. Reading these comments is like watching an episode of Jerry Springer or “Real Housewives”.

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