US service member involved in Ukrainian Su-27 crash


A Ukrainian Su-27 aircraft flying in Ukraine’s Clear Sky exercise crashed during an Oct. 16 training flight, but the fate of a U.S. servicemember involved in the crash is still unclear, the U.S. Air Force said Tuesday.

Shortly after the crash occurred in the Khmelnytskyi region of western Ikraine, news media released reports, citing the Ukrainian general staff, that claimed two pilots — one Ukrainian and one U.S. Air National Guardsman — had died during the accident. However, the post has since been removed.

In its own statement, the U.S. Air Force was not immediately able to confirm any casualties.

“We have seen reports claiming a U.S. casualty and can confirm a U.S. service member was involved in this incident,” U.S. Air Forces Europe said in a Tuesday statement. “It is currently under investigation and we will continue to provide more information as it becomes available.”

The Su-27 crash casts a pall on the first-ever Clear Sky, which kicked off this month and aims to increase the interoperability of NATO countries and partner nations’ air forces through training that includes air sovereignty, cyber defense, air-to-ground integration and aeromedical evacuation, among other missions.

About 950 servicemembers from nine militaries are taking part in the exercise, including the United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania.

California Air National Guard F-15s were deployed to Starokostiantyniv Air Base in Ukraine to train alongside Ukrainian fighters, reported Air Force Times earlier this month.

Other U.S. aircraft participating in the exercise include California ANG C-130s sent to Vinnytsia Air Base; Illinois ANG KC-135s from Powidz Air Base, Poland, and active duty KC-135s from from RAF Mildenhall, England; as well as MQ-9 Reapers based at Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland.

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