The newly developed Russian Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation stealth fighter jet crashed 111 km off Dzyomgi airfield under unknown circumstances while performing a test flight.
The pilot ejected safely. The black boxes of the crashed jet were being recovered.
The crash occurred during an engines test, a local government representative reported.
“According to preliminary information, the accident occurred due to a failure of the Su-57 tail control system,” said one of the TASS agency’s interlocutors.
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.
‘A special commission will investigate the causes of the crash,’ said a spokesman for United Aircraft Corporation which owns the plant.
Investigators will examine whether the was a ‘technical malfunction’ or pilot error, say reports. One source said there had been a failure of the hi-tech plane’s ‘control system’.
The incident occurred days before Russia’s Aerospace Forces were due to receive their first serial-produced Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jet. Its developer Sukhoi plans to deliver a total of 67 fifth-generation Su-57s to the Russian Aerospace Forces by 2028.
Russia’s air force has ordered 76 of the $155 million (£120million) planes, which are intended to rival America’s F-22 Raptor stealth fighters – to which they are similar.