"On 23 March during the preparations for the Tu-22M3 flight at an airfield in the Kaluga region, the ejection system was accidentally activated. Because the accident happened at too low a height for parachutes to be used, three crew members sustained fatal injuries on landing", the ministry told the press.
A source said earlier that the incident occurred while the bomber was on the ground. According to preliminary reports, one of the victims was a commanding officer of the aviation regiment.
A fourth crew member survived the ejection and has been sent to a hospital. An Air Force commission was sent to the site to investigate the incident.
The Tu-22M is a supersonic strategic bomber, developed back in the Sixties. At least 63 of them were being used by the Russian Air Force as of 2018.