Tragedy struck the Russian military on Tuesday when a helicopter on a training mission crashed and killed all three crew members on board, American Military News (AMN) reported.
According to The Moscow Times, a Mi-8 helicopter operated by the Russian Air Force was conducting a routine unarmed training mission on Tuesday when it crashed near the town of Klin, a little more than 50 miles outside the capital of Moscow.
The fatal crash was confirmed by the Russian Defense Ministry. “According to preliminary information, the cause of the disaster could be a technical malfunction,” a spokesperson explained, according to AMN.
Exactly what sort of “technical malfunction” the helicopter suffered remains unclear at this point, but whatever it may have been was apparently enough to force the disabled craft to make what was described as a “hard landing in a deserted area.”
Worrisome history of Mi-8
AMN noted that a team was reportedly dispatched quickly to the scene of the crash by the Chief Command of the Russian Aerospace Forces, and that team was said to have already recovered both of the helicopter’s black boxes.
This is actually the second recent incident involving a Russian Mi-8 having to make a “hard landing,” though the instance that occurred in February was reportedly caused by a snowstorm, and there were no fatalities resulting from that crash, according to The Moscow Times.
According to AMN, Russia’s Mi-8 helicopter was initially developed by the Soviet military in the 1960s and is generally regarded as one of the nation’s most reliable rotary aircraft.
But according to Russian media reports, there were at least 23 other incidents involving Mi-8 helicopters in the past couple of years — 14 in 2018 and nine in 2019 — with six of those 25 total crashes, including Tuesday’s incident, producing fatalities.
Given the fact that the decades-old design is still in use, not just in Russia but in dozens of other countries as well, it is imperative that the cause of the crash is quickly determined in order to ensure it is not a widespread issue that could affect other craft in other countries.
To be sure, anyone who joins the military in any country understands that there is an inherent risk factor involved, and training exercise incidents, even those ending in death, are neither unheard of nor terribly uncommon.
Nonetheless, this peacetime loss is certainly a tragic one.
Still, we should keep a watchful eye on Russia while continuing to train our own military in the (hopefully) unlikely event that our two nations enter into a conflict with each other that requires military action.