Su-57 Felon Advanced Fighter Crashes In Russia (Updated)

The jet went down not far from the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant in Russia's Far East. It is the first total loss for the type. 

Preparations for 2019 MAKS Air Show in Zhukovsky
Photo by Marina Lystseva\TASS via Getty Images)

A Russian Su-57 has crashed roughly 68 miles from the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant in Russia's Far East. The jet belonged to Sukhoi and was executing a flight test at the time of the incident. The pilot ejected and was recovered alive by an Mi-8 search and rescue helicopter not long after the crash. It is the first total loss of a Su-57, although one of the type's T-50 prototypes was badly damaged due to an engine fire in 2014. 

Just over a dozen T-50/Su-57s have been delivered since the type first flew nearly a decade ago. For a time, it looked as if production was in doubt, especially as an export partner for the jet remains elusive, but the Russian Ministry of Defense announced it would order 76 of the advanced fighters last May. Specialized weapons continue to be developed for the jet and the advanced fighter is being used to test interoperability with the country's "Hunter" unmanned combat air vehicles. You can read more about the Su-57's unique strengths and weaknesses in this past feature of ours. 

Update: 2:38 AM PST—

TASS reports that a flight control system failure caused the crash, with one source stating it had to do with the aircraft's tail control surfaces. Interfax reports the aircraft was the first production Su-57 ever and it was supposed to be delivered to the Russian Air Force by year's end. If this is the case, it would be a significant blow to the program on a number of levels. 

We will update this article with more information as it comes available. 

Update: 6:40 AM PST—

TV Zvezda, an official outlet of the Russian Ministry of Defense, says that Su-57 exploded when it hit the ground and was totally destroyed. Multiple outlets are also now reporting that aircraft was indeed the first serial production example.

State-run media outlet RIA Novosti has reported that the mishap occurred during an engine test, but it remains unclear if engine trouble was the actual cause of the accident. Some Russian media reports have pointed to a potential failure in the Su-57's engine control system, but TASS continues to report that its sources say the issue was in the flight control system.

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