The Russian Knights (Russian: Русские Витязи, romanized: Russkkiye Vityazi) is an aerobatic demonstration team of the Russian Air Force. Originally formed on April 5, 1991 at the Kubinka Air Base as a team of six Sukhoi Su-27s, the team was the first to perform outside the Soviet Union in September 1991 when they toured the United Kingdom. On December 12, 1995, disaster struck as three team jets flew in-formation into a mountainside near Cam Ranh, Vietnam during approach while en route to home from a Malaysian airshow during adverse weather conditions. The team now performs with eight Su-30SM with numbers "30", "31", "32", "33", "34", "35", "36" and "37".
|Russian Knights |
(237-th Aviation Technology Demonstration Center of the RF's AF)
|Active||5 April 1991 – present|
|Branch||Russian Air Force|
|Garrison/HQ||Kubinka (air base) |
Moscow Oblast, Russia
|Colors||Red, White and Blue|
|Fighter||8 Sukhoi Su-30SM|
The Kubinka air force base located 60 km west of Moscow is well known both in Russia and abroad. For years, it has been known as the Air Force installation used for demonstrating advanced combat aircraft to national and foreign leaders. Nowadays, Kubinka AFB is known as the best aerobatics school where the Russian Knights and Swifts aerobatics teams are stationed. Meanwhile, Kubinka is a major base of the Russian Air Force in the Moscow region.
On December 12, 1995, when approaching the Cam Ranh airfield (Vietnam) in adverse weather for refueling, two Su-27s and an Su-27UB of the Russian Knights team flew into a nearby mountain while in-formation, killing four pilots. The cause of the crash is attributed to a misinterpretation of approach-pattern instructions, and in particular the leading Il-76 that was acting as a reconnaissance aircraft.
On August 16, 2009, two Su-27s rehearsing acrobatic maneuvers collided near Moscow, killing one pilot and sending the jets crashing into nearby vacation homes. The dead pilot was identified as the Russian Knights' commander, Guards Colonel Igor Tkachenko, a decorated air force officer.
On June 9, 2016, one Su-27 pilot was killed near Moscow as he failed to eject, trying to save homes. 
- ""Русские Витязи" полностью укомплектовали группу новыми самолетами Су-30СМ". bmpd.livejournal.com. November 30, 2016. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- Sidorov, Pavel. "Катастрофа "Русских Витязей" (in Russian)". RU.AVIATION по материалам «ВЕСТHИК ВОЗДУШHОГО ФЛОТА 1-2 1996 года». Retrieved April 24, 2007.
- Pronina, Lyuba (August 14, 2001). "Knights and Swifts Aim to Conquer New Heights". The Nation. Thailand. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved May 27, 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
- "Pilot dies as Russia jets collide". BBC News. August 17, 2009.
- "Fighter jet crash: SU-27 pilot killed near Moscow, failed to eject trying to avoid homes". RT News. June 9, 2016.
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