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Su-34 (Su-27IB) Fullback

A two-seat derivative of the Su-27 fighter, the Su-34 can carry a payload of up to eight tons of precision-guided weapons over 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles). The aircraft will eventually replace all of the ageing Su-24 strike aircraft in service with the Air Force and Navy.

The first aircraft was a Su-27UB, which featured a frontal section with new radar, bigger and widened nose. The new variant was called Su-27IB initially (Istrebityel-bombardirovshchik - fighter aircraft). The new section of the nose had a side by side cockpit. The leading edges were extended until the root of the cabin and had canards. The first prototype was not equipped with fire control systems and was used for aerodynamic tests and arrangement of cockpit. It had an improvement in the maneuverability and characteristics of landing and take-off. The air inlet lost variable geometry, since high speed at great altitude was not as important, as the bomber works most of the time at cruise speed or at low altitude.

Designed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau, the Su-34 will replace the Su-24 Fencer frontline bombers. Sukhoi says the new bomber has the potential to become the best plane in its class for years to come. In Russia one Su-34 costs about one billion rubles. The $36 million Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat strike aircraft equipped with twin AL-31MF afterburning turbojet engines. It is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily defended targets in any weather conditions, day or night, and fields weaponry that includes a 30mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs. The fighter carries a wide range of air-to-ground missiles. Including the Kh-59ME, Kh-31A, Kh-31P, Kh-29T, Kh-29L, and the S-25LD, these weapons can hit both ground and maritime targets.

The Su-32/34 will be one of the three high performance aircraft that are planned to form the core of the future Russian Air Force, along with the Yak-130 advanced trainer and a new multi-functional fighter (PAK-FA). The Strike Flanker was in competition with the Su-30 to replace the Su-24 and was successful due to the potential of growth of the avionics, since it had twice the space in relation to the other airplanes of the Flanker family.

Su-34 (Su-27IB - Istrebitel-Bombardirovshchik) is a two seat ("arm-to-arm") strike variant that first flew in 1990. It features frontal wings and a large flattened nose with sharp edges (like the SR-71) reduce radar cross-section. This new ship-borne fighter is fitted with two AL-31FP engines with vectored thrust. Using them allows either the take-off distance or maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of the aircraft to be increased by 10-15 per cent. In the nose is a new multi-mode phased-array radar with terrain-following and terrain-avoidance for low-level attack. The aircraft has a distinctive large "sting" in the rear which contains the NO-14 radiolocation system, a radioelectronic countermeasures system, and a fuel tank. The NIIP NO-12 rearward radar that monitors enemy fighter activity behind the aircraft, and as needed, direct R-73 short-range and R-77 medium-range AAMs at the targets.

The two members of the crew sit down side by side in a large cabin, with the pilot-commander to the left and navigator/operator of weapons to the right in a jettisonable Zvezda K-36dm seat [that has an inlaid system of massage]. The advantage of the side by side cockpit is not to need to duplicate instruments and controls of flight, which improves efficiency and comfort. As long missions require comfort, it has pressurization that it allows to operate up to 10,000 meters without oxygen masks, which are available for emergencies and combat situations. The members of the crew can leave the seats and be in vertical position and relax. The space between the seats allows that they can lie down in the corridor, if necessary.

A long-range surveillance radar, passive detection systems, system of communication for tactical and strategical voice and data in a single platform with long-range capacity with flight refuelling, transform it into a way of monitoring and recognition in real time and platform of command and control, forming a complete battle management system. The Sukhoi aircraft maker has signed a 1.5 billion ruble ($47 million) contract for the delivery of 184 friend-or-foe transponders for its Su-34 fighter-bombers, the equipment supplier said 19 August 2013. The transponders will be manufactured by the Kazan-based Radiopribor holding company and delivered by 2020, Radiopribor deputy general director Igor Nasenkov said.

The Su-34 will - with the appropriate avionic and weapons systems - provide the air force with a capable long range strike platform, with considerably more punch than the Su-24. Work continued to integrate modern air-to-surface weaponry now in development in Russia on the Su-34, with trials being carried out at the air force test center at Akhtubinsk. It is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily-defended targets under any weather conditions, day or night, and is equipped with a 30-mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs.

Vladimir Voronov wrote in 2015 that "there was a scandal in late 2012 when, in the light of experience of the latest Russian frontline bomber, the Sukhoy Su-34, an evaluation was signed by Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu, reporting complaints from aircrews about all 16 of the aircraft which had been delivered to the armed forces. They had significant defects preventing fully effective operational use. In particular, it was said the sighting and navigation system and radar locator constantly failed, and the factory assembly of the aircraft was not up to standard. Moreover, the aircraft, which had by then been being delivered to the armed forces for six years, had still not been standardized: each plane had “its own distinctive characteristics”. Defence industry representatives responded that everything was fine and these were just “teething problems”: the real trouble, they averred, was that the air force personnel were not properly trained and did not know how to program and operate the equipment."

Foreign buyers of Russian-made military equipment will now be able to take a good look at the Sukhoi Su-34 strike fighters which have been actively engaged in the Russian-led aerial campaign targeting extremists in Syria and hailed as the best hardware Moscow can offer, military expert Igor Korotchenko told RIA Novosti 19 October 2015. Korotchenko named Vietnam, Algeria and Iraq as potential buyers but added that other countries, including Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, are increasingly interested in the Su-34 as well.

"Several countries in Africa, including Uganda and Nigeria, which is waging a war against Boko Haram, could buy the Su-34. Strike fighters could also strengthen Ethiopia's Air Force, which operates aging Sukhoi Su-27 fighters," Korotchenko noted.

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