A Russian fighter jet crashed into the sea shortly into a training flight off the coast of Syria, Russia’s Ministry of Defense has announced.
“As a result of a technical malfunction during a training flight an incident occurred to a carrier-based MiG-29,” read an official statement. “The pilot catapulted was delivered to the air carrier Admiral Kuznetsov by a rescue crew. The pilot was not hurt, and is ready for future missions.”
The flagship of the Russian Navy, the Admiral Kuznetsov leads a fleet positioned in the eastern Mediterranean, which has been conducting reconnaissance missions over Syria since arriving in mid-October.
Russia’s only aircraft carrier is the base for over 20 fighter jets, which have supplemented a similar-sized air force contingent at a land base in Khmeimim, outside Latakia. The forces are in the region at the invitation of President Bashar Assad, who requested Russia’s aid over a year ago.
The journey of the Admiral Kuznetsov from the northern coast of Russia, through the English Channel, and past the Strait of Gibraltar was widely covered by the Western media, which dubbed it a “projection of Russian power.” The aircraft carrier was reportedly refused refueling stops in Spain and Malta, and was pictured being towed after suffering from apparent technical difficulties, though this was denied by the Russian authorities.
Russian officials have said that they are ready to deploy the fleet’s air force in the strikes on Aleppo, where a battle continues to rage between government forces and Islamist rebel militias.