DECODED: Why Did Russian Su-34 Fighter Bomber ‘BOMB’ Its Own City While Ukrainians Call It ‘Karma’

In an unprecedented turn of events, the Russian Sukhoi-34 supersonic warplane accidentally fired a weapon, reportedly an aerial bomb, into Belgorod, located about 40 kilometers from Ukraine.

The incident, which occurred late on April 20, caused a massive explosion and injured about three people, with the actual number expected to be higher. The ordnance that accidentally fell on the Russian city left a 20-meter-deep crater and caused a massive explosion that blew a car onto a rooftop.

Video footage of the accident site showed several damaged cars, concrete piles on the street, and a building with broken windows. The incident caused a deep-seated panic among the residents of the city.

Governor of the Belgorod area, Vyacheslav Gladkov, declared a state of emergency overnight stating that there were damages to four cars and four residential structures. “Thank God there are no dead,” he said in a statement on Telegram, adding that an apartment building had been evacuated overnight.

In a CCTV footage obtained in the aftermath of the accident, several automobiles are seen passing a crossroad before something fell on the ground close by. No immediate explosion occurs. About 18 seconds later, the ordnance explodes, destroying a portion of the road, hitting one of the passing vehicles, and launching a parked vehicle into the air.

To understand what could have caused the accident, EurAsian Times spoke to military experts. Group Captain Johnson Chacko (retd) explained, “There may be certain emergency situations when jettisoning of external load is resorted to for the safety of the aircraft. One of them could be an engine failure where the remaining thrust is inadequate for maintaining level flight, especially at low altitudes and low air speeds.

“Another could be when there is a threat, and external loads are jettisoned for better maneuverability for air combat, as the PAF did in operation Swift Retort post-Balakot. The bombs fell in an unintended area, causing no damage.”

A similar observation was made by Indian Air Force veteran and military commentator Squadron Leader Vijainder K. Thakur, who told EurAsian Times, “The need to jettison stores can arise on several counts, one of them being an aircraft emergency such as a single engine failure. Another reason could be aerodynamic instability caused by the weapons store. For example, the wings of a glide bomb may accidentally deploy before weapon release. There can be other reasons also.”

When questioned whether the incident could have occurred due to human error on the part of the pilot flying the said Su-34, both experts responded negatively.

File Image: Su-34

Embarrassment For Russia, Celebration For Ukraine

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) said while completing a flight above Belgorod in southwest Russia, a Su-34 aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces experienced an emergency ejection of air ordnance, TASS News Agency reported.

The ministry notified, “At around 22:15 Moscow time on April 20, when a Su-34 plane of the Russian Aerospace Forces was performing a flight above the city of Belgorod, an emergency release of an air ordnance occurred.” The Kremlin has given no new updates at the time of writing this report.

As the visuals of the incident surfaced on social media, netizens began to mock the incident calling it a work of karma for Russia, which regularly bombs Ukrainian cities, causing widespread devastation and leaving many dead.

In an official tweet, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said: “One should not laugh at the fact that the Russians dropped an aerial bomb on their city. Every day, Russian bombs fall on Ukrainian cities. Even such a heinous error will not teach or deter the Russians until they are stopped. We can do it together.”

The incident comes when the Ukrainian military has complained that it is virtually defenseless against Russia’s aerial bombs. With a new type of aerial guide bomb weighing 1.5 tons, Russia claims that Ukrainian air defense forces cannot shoot down these smart munitions. This was confirmed by the speaker of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Yuriy Ihnat.

The Russian Aerospace Forces have extensively deployed these aerial bombs to attack assets inside Ukraine, often from a stand-off distance.

Further, while the latest incident has left the Russians red-faced, it may not be the first time that a Su-34 was in an embarrassing incident. In October last year, the Russian Defense Ministry stated that one of its Su-34 fighter bombers crashed in Yeysk in southern Russia after one of its engines burst into flames.

This was another incident where the cutting-edge fighter of the Russian Air Force ended up killing the Russian people instead of attacking a target inside Ukraine.

The MoD said that an investigation was launched to decipher the cause of the accident. Military observers believe that the admission of the accident is an embarrassment to the Kremlin, which has pulled all strings to create a positive opinion of its so-called Special Military Operation (SMO) against Ukraine.