A Russian Ka-52 fighter helicopter crashed during what authorities described as a “routine flight” in eastern Syria, killing both of its pilots, RT reported on Monday.
The crash is the second Russian aircraft involved in a fatal crash during operations in Syria over the past week. Authorities said the cause of the crash could’ve been a “technical malfunction,” according to Sputnik.
“When carrying out a planned flight over the eastern regions of the Syrian Arab Republic, the Russian Ka-52 helicopter crashed. Both pilots were killed,” the ministry revealed in a statement.
“The cause of the incident could be a technical malfunction,” the ministry added.
On Thursday, A Russian Su-30SM fighter jet crashed over the Mediterranean – an incident that Russia’s Ministry of Defense blamed on a bird that was sucked into the plane’s engine. Both pilots were killed in that crash as well.
“A Russian Su-30SM fighter plane crashed over the Mediterranean Sea at around 9:45 a.m. Moscow time [06:45 GMT] when gaining height after taking off from the Hmeymim airfield. Both pilots, which were fighting to save the plane until the last moment, died,” the statement read.
Authorities haven’t released any details about the circumstances surrounding the crash, but did say that they had recovered the remains of both pilots.
Ka-52 attack helicopters – which are widely known by their nickname “Alligators” – have been deployed in Syria since 2016. Since then, they’ve provided air support military operations against ISIS and other enemies of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
Russia also deployed a version of the helicopter modified for maritime conditions, which it called the Ka-52K. These helicopters were based on the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov.
The crash comes as Israel and Saudi Arabia have been stepping up their military pressure on Iranian and Hezbollah forces operating in Syria. Over the weekend, Israel threatened Assad, warning that “it will be your end” if he continued allowing Iranian forces to operate in Syria.