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Russian military jet crashes, pilot killed
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A Su-25 military aircraft crashed Thursday morning in Russia's Far East region, killing the pilot on board, Russian news agencies reported.

"Today, on March 20 at 3:33 A.M. Moscow time (0033 GMT), a Su-25 aircraft crashed during a training flight near the Chernigovka airbase, 143 km from Vladivostok," Air Force spokesman Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying.

"The commander of the Russian Air Force has ordered the suspension of Su-25 flights," he said.

Personnel of the Far Eastern Air Force and Air Defense units have launched a joint search-and-rescue operation.

"According to preliminary reports, the plane developed technical problems during live firing exercises," Drobyshevsky said.

The single-seat twin-engine Su-25 jet was developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau to provide close air support for the ground troops.

This type of aircraft has been in service with the Russian Air Force for more than 25 years. Thursday's accident was the first Su-25 crash in the past two years.

In 1999, Russia adopted a program to upgrade part of its aging Su-25 fleet. The Russian Air Force received the first six modernized planes, Su-25SM, in December 2006.

(Xinhua News Agency March 20, 2008)

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