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A disaster on a long range Russian nuclear bomber aircraft has killed all three crew members on board.
In a freak accident, the plane's ejector seat system was reported to have triggered as the plane was prepared for departure at Shaikovka military airfield, 200 miles southwest of Moscow.
A report has said the three crew were catapulted into the air from the aircraft but the height was insufficient to deploy parachutes, leaving them to free fall until they hit the ground sustaining injuries “incompatible with life”.
The cockpit horror came as the engines started ahead of a training flight involving the supersonic long range Tu-22M3 bombers.
It is not believed the plane was loaded with nuclear weapons at Shaikovka military airfield at the time of the accident.
The regiment commander who had been sitting in the instructor's seat, has been identified as one of the three confirmed dead by the Russian defence minister.
Earlier reports said the squadron of Tupolev Tu-22M3 (NATO reporting name: Backfire-C) had been on a training exercise in Kaluga region.
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Pilots from the squadron recently received vaccines for Covid-19, allowing them to participate in Russia’s May 9 Victory Day parade which marks the end of the Second World War.
The explosion is the latest in a series of tragic incidents involving the Tu-22M3.
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Three years ago a Tu-22M3 broke in two and erupted in flames as it crash landed in the Arctic and years earlier in summer 2004, four Tu-22M3 crew members were killed in a crash over the Novgorod region.
The Tupolev bomber which has a crew of four, has been in service since the Soviet era – can strike targets 4,350 miles from base, and is a key war plane for potential deployment against the West.
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