More than a year after the crash of 3 Russian Su-27 jet fighters at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, the general that was flying in a lead transport has been blamed for the accident. The planes belonged to the crack Russian Knights precision flying team and they were returning to Russia on December 12, 1995 after performing at an airshow in Malaysia. With bad weather at the field, the flight team was flying in tight formation on the wings of the lead Il-76 when they crashed into a mountain near the field. The Moscow Military Prosecutor’s Office said that Maj. Gen. Vladimir Grebennikov would probably be indicted in a military court and could be sentenced to 3-10 years in prison. (Izvestia, January 15)
The Russian Nights have often flown abroad, where they help to win customers for Russian military aircraft builders. Southeast Asia has been a promising market for Russian fighter exports since Moscow broke into the market with the 1994 sale of 18 MiG-29s to Malaysia.
Flight safety continues to be a concern of the Russian air force. Commander-in-Chief Pyotr Deinekin yesterday presided over a special meeting at his headquarters on the subject. He noted that there had been several other serious accidents in 1996, including an Il-76 crash in November with the loss of 23 lives and the December loss of an An-12 transport that took the lives of the commander of the Leningrad Military district and his wife. (Itar-Tass, January 15)
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