Three crew members of Russsia’s Tu-22M3 long-range bomber died in an “abnormal operation” of the aircraft’s ejection system while the aircraft was  being prepared on the ground at an airfield near Kaluga.

“On March 23, during the planned preparation on the ground for the Tu-22M3 flight at the airfield in the Kaluga region, an abnormal operation of the ejection system occurred. Due to the insufficient height to deploy the parachutes, three crew members received injuries incompatible with life upon landing,” the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement quoted by Interfax.

No further details of the accident were available at the time of writing. The Tu-22M3 comprises of 4 crew members including pilots. It is not clear if the full crew complement was present on the aircraft at the time of the incident.

The MoD noted that a commission of the Russian Aerospace Forces was sent to the airfield to conduct a technical examination of the aircraft and establish the causes of the accident.

Earlier accidents:

The last disaster involving the Tu-22M3 occurred in the Murmansk region on January 22, 2019. Then, after completing a planned training flight, the bomber fell into a snow charge, fell on the runway, caught fire and collapsed. Two crew members were killed, two survived.

December 17, 2019, a Tu-22M3 long-range bomber made an emergency landing in the Astrakhan region. Then the crew managed to take the car with the failed engine away from the settlement and land on the ground. None of the pilots were injured.

Earlier, on the night of July 8-9, 2004 a Tu-22M3 crashed a few kilometers from the settlement of Soltsy, Novgorod Region,. All four crew members were killed in the crash.

Tu-22M3 aircraft were used by the Russian military in the military operation in Afghanistan and Syria. Currently, a deeply modernized version of this aircraft, the Tu-22M3M, is being created.