A pilot was killed when a Sukhoi-30MK2 fighter jet crashed in the mountainous area of Guaicaipuro, Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro confirmed.
The crash occurred at approximately 09:45 am local time on July 2, 2023, when the aircraft from the Bolivarian Military Aviation division was performing a fly-past exercise in preparation for Venezuela’s Independence Day celebration.
“Both crew members managed to eject, however, unfortunately, Col. Paulino José Millán Sabino died when he fell to the ground,” President Maduro said in a statement.
The pilot’s death was also mourned by the Venezuelan Armed Forces (VAF) on Twitter, which lamented “the irreparable loss of a brave military professional, who gave his life serving the nation”.
The Sukhoi Su-30 aircraft is a twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable fighter jet developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. The aircraft is versatile, being able to perform various combat and non-combat roles. It is equipped with a 30mm autocannon, and hardpoints capable of carrying various missiles.
Venezuela and Russia, along with Iran, China, and Turkey, have signed military cooperation agreements since the government of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (1999-2013). As part of these agreements, Venezuela acquired 24 Sukhoi Su-30MK2 aircraft in 2006 to replace the French Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jet.
However, this incident is not the first fatal crash to involve a Sukhoi-30 in Venezuela. Two pilots were killed in similar incidents with the aircraft type in September 2015 and October 2019.