In December 2016, a Sukhoi Su-33 fighter jet of the Russian Navy was participating in Russia’s naval operations in Syria when it crashed into the sea while trying to land on Admiral Kuznetsov’s aircraft carrier.
The problem was again in the capture rope, which this time the aircraft could not capture on landing, and so ended up in the water. The pilot had no choice but to catapult. He was caught OK by a helicopter.
Leaked footage of the incident has surfaced on social media channels showing a Russian Sukhoi Su-33 fighter jet sinking into the Mediterranean Sea after a failed attempt to land on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.
In the video, which has been widely circulated on military-focused Telegram channels, the aircraft can be seen in the water, still attached to Admiral Kuznetsov’s arresting gear. Nearby, a helicopter is visible, indicating a rescue operation for the ejected pilot.
The Sukhoi Su-33, originally known as the Su-27K, is a Soviet/Russian twin-engine all-weather air superiority fighter built for carrier operations.
The Su-33 has a stronger undercarriage and structure, foldable wings, and stabilators—all of which are designed for aircraft carriers. With canards and broader wings than the Su-27, the Su-33 has a slower stall speed. The Su-33 is air refueled and has dual nose wheels and upgraded engines.
The fighter entered service in August 1998. Sales to China and India were attempted, and the Russian Navy eventually ordered the MiG-29K as a replacement in 2009 with plans to retire the Su-33 once they reached the end of their service life. The Su-33, however, has remained in service.