The military court of the Tver garrison is preparing to consider the case against Major Vasily Savelyev, the pilot of the 790th air regiment,. The major is facing seven years in prison and an unprecedented amount of compensation for damage, namely, more than a billion rubles. An officer shot down a fellow soldier’s plane on September 22, 2020, during a training battle, while piloting a Su-35S fighter. Ammunition, which was supposed to be empty, turned out to be loaded by an oversight. Although the crew of the downed plane managed to escape, the pilot will have to reimburse the Ministry of Defense for the cost of the plane and serve time for violating the rules of “photo shooting”.

Preparing an aircraft that was on combat duty for training battles, is disarmament of the aircraft, first of all. But this was not done by the technicians.

Major Savelyev, together with other pilots, completed a combat training mission on the ground on the day of the training air battles, and only after that he went to the fighter. He received the technician’s report that the Su-35S was in the good condition and ready to fly and then he signed the aircraft preparation logbook. The logbook has a column “aircraft weapons”. It was empty, meaning that the missiles had been removed, and the air cannon had been discharged. Then Savelyev climbed into the pilot’s cabin and started the engine.

Dodging the attack of two planes, Savelyev turned his fighter, directed it at the simulated enemy and pressed the trigger, simulating the launch of the rocket, being successfully “eliminated” by the imaginary enemy on the Su-35S. The distance no longer allowed to use an air-to-air missile against the second “enemy” fighter. An imitation of firing from a melee weapon, namely, an aircraft cannon, was used. However, when the officer took aim and pressed the button, located under the thumb of his right hand on the control stick of the aircraft, for firing the cannon for a split second (so that the burst was as short as possible), five shells flew out of the muzzle of the cannon. The line turned out to be a sniper one: all five 30-mm rounds hit the wing of the Su-30M2, knocking out the fighter’s hydraulic system. The crew, consisting of two pilots, namely, a major and a senior lieutenant, was forced to eject.

The plane crashed in a swampy forest 28 kilometers from the Khotilovo airbase. The search group found the ejected pilots a few kilometers from the crash site of the fighter within an hour and delivered them to the airbase. They were safe and sound.

The Russian Federation adopted a law “On material liability of servicemen” in July 2017 and amended it. The convict is now obliged to compensate the Ministry of Defense for the damage caused, regardless of whether the crime was deliberate or negligent, even if to talk about a billion, as in the story of Major Vasily Savelyev. Everyone understands perfectly well that an officer will never be able to pay this amount, but who is interested in this in the Russian Federation?