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.
The aircraft is one of the four naval Fulcrums operated by the 100th Independent Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment.
According to our sources, the incident occurred around 14.30Z and involved a two-seater Fulcrum in a formation of three Mig-29s operating from the carrier in the eastern Mediterranean Sea off Syria: whilst one of the remaining aircraft recovered aboard the Kuznetsov the third one diverted for unknown reasons to Syria.
Footage allegedly showing Mig-29s in the skies over Aleppo had happered earlier on the same day.
Russia’s MOD has just announced that Kuznetsov aircraft carrier group prepares to strike Daesh targets in the province of Aleppo. Here’s from where.
The only Russian Navy aircraft carrier has eventually arrived in the eastern Mediterranean Sea from where, along with the rest of its battle group, it prepares to launch air strikes on Syria.
Interestingly, the first raids are being announced beforehand.
Indeed, according to the State-run Sputnik News, Russia’s MoD told Gazeta.ru that the Adm. Kuznetsov group is going to attack “terrorists in the province of Aleppo in the next 24 hours. The attack, which will likely engage Kalibr cruise missiles, will target militants outside of Aleppo, and not the residential areas.”
The naval group, includes among the others the Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser, the Severomorsk and Kulakov anti-submarine destroyers, and the Adm. Grigorovich Kalibr-armed frigate (believed the be the one that will be involved in the cruise missile launch). Reportedly, three submarines armed with cruise missiles (two Akula-class submarines and a diesel-powered Kilo-class sub) have joined the strike group in the deployment to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Noteworthy, a NOTAM has been issued (and publicly available) covering the Nov. 10 to 22 timeframe, with details about the area of a “Russian Navy Exercise” allegedly featuring “training flights and rocket test firings” (not actual firing activity….)
A1323/16 – RUSSIAN NAVY EXERCISE (TRAINING FLIGHTS
ROCKET TEST FIRINGS) WILL TAKE PLACE IN AREA :
350540N0344715E. SFC – FL300, 10-15 17-22 0500-2100, 10 NOV 05:00 2016 UNTIL
22 NOV 21:00 2016. CREATED: 03 NOV 12:46 2016
Based on the NOTAM, the airspace where the Russian Navy is probably going to operate can be found in the top image (processed using SkyVector.com).
As a consequence of NOTAM A1323/16 another one (A1324/16) was issued to notify airmen of the closure of the affected airways in the area east of Cyprus, off Syria.
A1324/16 – DUE TO RUSSIAN NAVY EXERCISE AS REFERED IN
NOTAM LCNC A1323/16, THE FOLLOWING AIRWAYS WILL BE
1.W/UW 17 (BALMA-NIKAS)
2.R/UR 78, M/UM978 (ALSUS-NIKAS)
3. B/UB15 L/UL620 (BALMA-ALSUS)
4. W/UW10, L/UL619 (VESAR-NIKAS)
5. R655 (BALMA-KOBER)
6. UR655 (BALMA- LCA)
SFC – FL300. 10-15 17-22 0500-2100, 10 NOV 05:00 2016 UNTIL 22 NOV 21:00 2016.
CREATED: 03 NOV 13:10 2016
Top image credit: screenshot of map edited on SkyVector.com
Some interesting footage shows the Russians are not only launching air strikes from Iran…
On Aug. 19, at around 10:55LT in the morning, the Zeliony Dol and Serpukhov small-sized missile ships of the Black Sea Fleet, sailing in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, performed 3 launches of Kalibr cruise missiles against facilities of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist grouping in Syria.
According to the information released by the Russian MoD, the cruise missiles targeted a command center and a terrorist base near the Dar-Taaza inhabited area as well as a plant manufacturing mortar munitions and a large depot with armament, in the Aleppo province.
The data collected by the Russians “confirmed the elimination of the planned targets.”
The Russian Defence Ministry published some footage of the launches, of the destruction of their targets and the subsequent Battle Damage Assessment (filmed from a UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) on their Youtube channel.
Operating from Engels and Modzok airbases in southwestern Russia, the aircraft had to cover a distance close to 3,000 km. According to some sources, the aircraft were thus supported by several Il-78M aerial refuelers on their way to the targets and back: actually, it’s not clear whether the Backfire could be refueled since the retractable probe in the upper part of the nose was reportedly removed as a result of the SALT negotiations, but it can be reinstated if needed.
Under the newly signed agreement with Iran, Russian bombers will be able to cut their flight time by 60%, saving money and increasing the ops tempo: the current distance to Syria is roughly 900 km, meaning that more bombs can be loaded in the round-trip mission from Iran.
Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, that has been the headquarters of the Russian aircraft since October last year was unable to accommodate the large (34m wingspan) Russian supersonic, variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic bombers.