Sukhoi Su-34

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MAKS Airshow 2013 (Ramenskoye Airport, Russia) (527-15).jpg
Russian Air Force Su-34 in new camouflage
Role Fighter-bomber[1]
Manufacturer Sukhoi
First flight 13 April 1990
Introduction 20 March 2014 (Oficial)[2][3]
Status In production,[4] in service
Primary user Russian Air Force
Produced 2006–present[5]
Number built 59 (51 + 8 prototypes) as of 2014[6]
Unit cost
US$36 million[7]
Developed from Sukhoi Su-27

The Sukhoi Su-34 (Russian: Сухой Су-34) (export designation: Su-32, NATO reporting name: Fullback) is a Russian twin-seat fighter-bomber. It is intended to replace the Sukhoi Su-24.[8] Based on the Su-27 Flanker, it is intended for high-precision strikes, including strikes with nuclear weapons, on land and sea targets at any time of day.


Early development[edit]

The Su-34 had a muddied and protracted beginning.[9] In the mid-1980s, Sukhoi began developing a new multirole tactical aircraft to replace the swing-wing Su-24, which would incorporate a host of conflicting requirements. The bureau thus selected the Su-27, which excelled in maneuverability and range, and could carry a large payload, as the basis for the new fighter-bomber.[10] More specifically, the aircraft was developed from T10KM-2, the naval trainer derivative of the Sukhoi Su-27K. The development, known internally as T-10V, was shelved at the end of the 1980s sharing the fate of new aircraft carriers; this was the result of the political upheaval in the Soviet Union and its subsequent disintegration.[9][10]

In August 1990 a photograph taken by a TASS officer showed an aircraft making a dummy approach towards Tbilisi carrier.[9][10] The aircraft, subsequently and erroneously labelled Su-27KU by Western intelligence, made its maiden flight on 13 April 1990 with Anatoliy Ivanov at the controls.[11] Converted from an Su-27UB with the new distinctive nose, while retaining the main undercarriage of previous Su-27s, it was a prototype for the Su-27IB (Istrebitel Bombardirovshchik, or "fighter bomber").[12] It was developed in parallel with the two-seat naval trainer, the Su-27KUB. However, contrary to earlier reports, the two aircraft are not directly related.[13] Flight tests continued throughout 1990 and into 1991.[10]

In 1992, the Su-27IB was displayed to the public at the MosAeroshow (later renamed "MAKS Airshow"), where it demonstrated aerial refuelling with an Il-78, and performed an aerobatic display. The aircraft was officially unveiled on 13 February 1992 at Machulishi, where Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the CIS leaders were holding a summit. The following year the Su-27IB was again displayed at the MAKS Airshow.[11]

The next prototype, and first pre-production aircraft, T10V-2, first flew on 18 December 1993 at the controls of Igor Votintsev and Yevgeniy Revoonov.[11] Built at Novosibirsk, where Su-24s were constructed, this aircraft was visibly different from the original prototype; it had modified vertical stabilizers, twin tandem main undercarriage and a longer "sting", which houses a rearward-facing warning radar.[9] The first aircraft built to production standard made its first flight on 28 December 1994.[9] It was fitted with a fire-control system, at the heart of which was the Leninets OKB-designed V004 passive electronically scanned array radar.[9] It was different enough from the earlier versions that it was re-designated the "Su-34".[11] However, at the 1995 Paris Air Show, the Su-34 was allocated the "Su-32FN" designation, signalling the aircraft's potential role as a shore-based naval aircraft. Sukhoi also promoted the Su-34 as the "Su-32MF" (MnogoFunksionalniy, "multi-function").[9]

Budget restrictions led the programme to stall repeatedly. Nevertheless, flight testing continued, albeit at a slow pace. The third pre-production aircraft first flew in late 1996.[14]

Production and testing[edit]

Su-34 landing

Initially only a handful of pre-production models were built. In March 2006, Russia's Minister of Defence Sergei Ivanov announced that the government had purchased the first pair of Su-34s for delivery in 2006. A total of 200 aircraft were to be purchased by 2015 to replace some 300 Russian Su-24s,[15] which were at the time going through a modernization program.[16] Ivanov claimed that because the aircraft is "many times more effective on all critical parameters" the Russian Air Force will need far fewer of these newer bombers than the old Su-24 it replaces.

In December 2006, Ivanov revealed that approximately 200 Su-34s were expected to be in service by 2020.[17] This was confirmed by Air Force chief Vladimir Mikhaylov on 6 March 2007.[18] Two Su-34s were delivered in 2006-2007, and three more were delivered by the end of 2009.[19] On 9 January 2008, Sukhoi reported that the Su-34 has begun full-rate production. At this time Russia planned to have 24 Su-34s operational by late 2010.[15][16]

The Russian Air Force received another four Su-34s on 28 December 2010, and expects to receive 70 Su-34s by 2015.[20] A Russian military source announced in September 2011 that Air Force had finished pre-deployment tests of Su-34.[21] Combat units first received six Su-34s in 2011.[22]

Delivery came in the form of two contracts, the first in 2008 for 32 aircraft and the second in 2012 for a further 92 aircraft, totaling 124 to be delivered by 2020.[23] In December 2012 it was reported that Sukhoi delivered five aircraft (transferred under the 2012 State Defense Order).[24] In January 2013 Sukhoi delivered another batch of 5 Su-34 strike aircraft. They flew from the Novosibirsk aircraft plant to an air base in Voronezh, Russia.[25] On May 6, 2013 the first Sukhoi Su-34s under defence procurement plans in 2013 was delivered to the air force.[26]

On 9 July 2013, three more Su-34s were delivered to the Russian Air Force, with the official acceptance ceremony taken place directly at the Novosibirsk Aircraft Plant. The appearance of the three Su-34s in the new Russian air force camouflage, a black top, blue bottom, and white nose, suggests that the livery is official and will be kept.[27] As of the end of 2013, Sukhoi completed 2008 contract and started deliveries on 2012 contract.[28]

In August 2013 Sukhoi signed a contract with the Kazan-based Radiopribor holding company for 184 "friend-or-foe" transponders for the Su-34. The transponders are due to be delivered by 2020.[29]

On 10 June 2014, Russia1 TV reported a further delivery of Su-34s was made to the 559th Regiment at Morozovsk.[30] Three aircraft were delivered on 18 July 2014.[31]

The final stage of the state tests completed on 19 September 2011.[32]


Frontal view of the Su-34

The aircraft shares most of its wing structure, tail, and engine nacelles with the Su-27/Su-30, with canards like the Su-30MKI/Su-33/Su-27M/35 to increase static instability (higher manoeuvrability) and to reduce trim drag. The aircraft has an entirely new nose and forward fuselage with a cockpit providing side-by-side seating for a crew of two. The Su-34 is powered by the AL-31FM1, the same engines with the Su-27SM, but its maximum speed is lower at Mach 1.8+ when fully loaded.[33]

The Su-34 has a three surface planform, with a conventional horizontal tail at the rear and a pair of canard foreplanes in front of the wings for extra lift and more manoeuvring capability. The Su-34 has 12 hardpoints for up to 12,000 kilograms of ordnance, intended to include the latest Russian precision-guided weapons. It retains the Su-27/Su-30's 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon.[34]

The Su-34's most distinctive feature is the unusually large flight deck. Much of the design work went into crew comfort. The two crew members sit side by side in a large cabin, with the pilot-commander to the left and navigator/operator of weapons to the right in NPP Zvezda K-36dm ejection seats. An advantage of the side by side cockpit is that duplicate instruments are not required for each pilot. Since long missions require comfort, the pressurization system allows operation up to 10,000 metres (32,800 ft) without oxygen masks, which are available for emergencies and combat situations.[35] The crew members have room to stand and move about the cabin during long missions.[36][37] The space between the seats allows them to lie down in the corridor, if necessary.[35] A toilet and a galley are located behind the crew seats.[35][36] Entrance into the cockpit is from below, using a ladder attached to the nose landing gear and a hatch in the cockpit floor.

Operational history[edit]

Su-34 taxiing

The Su-34's long range was shown in a July 2010 exercise when Su-34s and Su-24Ms were moved from Russian bases in Europe to one on the Pacific coast, 6,000 kilometres away, which requires in-flight refuelling. The Su-24Ms were refuelled three times, while the Su-34 was refuelled twice.[38]

The Su-34 was rumoured to have been utilized by Russian command during the 2008 South Ossetia war.[39]

The aircraft entered service in early 2014.[2]



Russian Air Force – 51 aircraft + 8 prototypes (October 2014)[6]

Specifications (Su-34)[edit]

Data from Sukhoi data,[40] Gordon and Davison,[41] AF Technology,[42][43][44][44][44]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 23.34 m (72 ft 2 in)
  • Wingspan: 14.7 m (48 ft 3 in)
  • Height: 6.09 m (19 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 62.04 m² (667.8 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 22,500 kg (49,608 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 39,000 kg (85,980 lb)
  • Useful load: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 45,100 kg (99,425 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × 13,500 kgf (132 kN, 29,762 lbf) afterburning thrust Lyulka AL-31FM1[45] turbofans
  • Internal fuel: 12,100 kg (15,400 l)



  • Guns: 1× 30 mm GSh-30-1 (9A-4071K) cannon, 150-180 rounds[46]
  • Hardpoints: 12× wing and fuselage stations with a capacity of 8,000-12,000 kg[47] and provisions to carry combinations of:
    • Rockets:
    • Missiles:
      • R-27 (AA-10) air-to-air missile
      • R-73 (AA-11) air-to-air missile
      • R-77 (AA-12) air-to-air missile
      • Kh-29L/T (AS-14) air-to-ground missile
      • Kh-38 new generation air-to-ground missile with a range of 40 km
      • Kh-25MT/ML/MP (AS-10) air-to-ground missile or anti-radiation missile
      • Kh-59M (AS-18) air-to-ground missile
      • Kh-58 (AS-11) anti-radiation missile
      • Kh-31 (AS-17) anti-radiation or anti-ship missile
      • Kh-35 (AS-20) anti-ship missile
      • Kh-65SE or Kh-SD cruise missile
    • Bombs:
      • KAB-500L or KAB-500KR or KAB-1500L/KR guided bombs
      • OFAB-250-270, OFAB-100-120, FAB-500T, BETAB-500SHP, P-50T, ODAB-500PM unguided bombs, RBK-500 and SPBE-D cluster bombs, Nuclear bombs.
    • Other:
      • 3,000 liters PTB-3000 Suspended Fuel Tanks, EW and reconnaissance pods.

See also[edit]

Related development
Comparable aircraft



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  2. ^ a b Su-34 front-line bomber enters Russian Air Force service Voice of Russia, 20th March 2014
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Russian Air Force receives 4 new Su-34 fighter-bombers." Sukhoi, 24 December 2010. Retrieved: 9 January 2011.
  5. ^ "Su-34 in the sky." Sukhoi, 2 October 2006. Retrieved: 9 January 2011.
  6. ^ a b New six Su-34(in Russian) livejournal, 16.10.2014
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  8. ^ "Outlook 2010: Reorganization Nears Completion, But Russian Industry Still Has Far To Go" (subscription article). Aviation Week & Space Technology, Volume 172, Issue 4, 25 January 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Williams 2002, p. 132
  10. ^ a b c d Gordon 1999, p. 92.
  11. ^ a b c d Gordon 1999, p. 93.
  12. ^ Eden 2004, p. 466.
  13. ^ Andrews, Thomas, "Sukhoi Su-27/Su-30 Family," International Air Power Review, Volume 8, Spring 2003.
  14. ^ Velovich, Alexander and Douglas Barrie. "Radar tests get under way on Sukhoi Su-27IB variant." Flight International, 22–28 January 1997. Retrieved: 9 July 2011.
  15. ^ a b "Russian Air Force to receive five Su-34 warplanes in 2008". RIA Novosti (Russian News and Information Agency), 14 January 2008.
  16. ^ a b "Russia producing new Su-34 bombers". United Press International, 9 January 2008. 
  17. ^ "Su-34 Fullback fighter takes to the skies." RIA Novosti (Russian News and Information Agency), 19 December 2006.
  18. ^ "3rd serial Su-34 fighter-bomber to take to the skies in November." RIA Novosti (Russian News and Information Agency), 6 March 2007.
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Russian Air Force receives new Su-34 fighter-bombers." RIA Novosti, 28 December 2010.
  21. ^ "Su-34 completed pre-deployment tests in Sep 2011.", 22 September 2011.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Министерство обороны купило 92 бомбардировщика Су-34" (in Russian)., 1 March 2012.
  24. ^ "Sukhoi Company (JSC) - News - News". 2012-12-29. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  25. ^ "Sukhoi Delivers 5 Su-34 Bombers to Russian Air Force | Business | RIA Novosti". 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  26. ^ "Russian Air Force receives first Su-34 bomber". English Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  27. ^ "Sukhoi Company (JSC) - News - News". Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
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  29. ^ "Sukhoi Signs $47M Transponder Deal for Su-34 | Defense | RIA Novosti". 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
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  32. ^ "С соблюдением формальностей, ВВС в 2012 году примут на вооружение бомбардировщики Су-34" (in Russian)., 20 September 2011. Retrieved: 5 October 2012.
  33. ^ "AL-31FM1." Retrieved: 1 March 2012.
  34. ^ Gordon 2006, pp. 80–81.
  35. ^ a b c Gordon, Yefim. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker: Air Superiority Fighter. London: Airlife Publishing, 1999. ISBN 1-84037-029-7.
  36. ^ a b Spick 2000, pp. 518–19.
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  39. ^ "Five-Day War: Up in the air (Russian)." Retrieved: 1 March 2012.
  40. ^ "Su-32: Aircraft performance", "Armaments". Sukhoi. Retrieved: 4 July 2011.
  41. ^ Gordon and Davison 2006, pp. 92, 95–96.
  42. ^ "Su-34 (Su-27IB) Flanker Fighter Bomber Aircraft, Russia." Retrieved: 5 October 2012.
  43. ^ "SU-34." Retrieved: 5 October 2012.
  44. ^ a b c
  45. ^ "Su-34." Retrieved: 1 March 2012.
  46. ^
  47. ^


  • Eden, Paul (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft. London: Amber Books, 2004. ISBN 1-904687-84-9. 
  • Gordon, Yefim. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker: Air Superiority Fighter. London: Airlife Publishing, 1999. ISBN 1-84037-029-7. 
  • Gordon, Yefim and Peter Davison. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. North branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 2006. ISBN 978-1-58007-091-1. 
  • Kopp, Carlo. "Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback"., January 2011 (last updated). 
  • Spick, Mike. "The Flanker". The Great Book of Modern Warplanes. St. Paul, Minnesota: Motorbooks International, 2000. ISBN 0-7603-0893-4. 
  • Williams, Mel (ed.). "Sukhoi 'Super Flankers'". Superfighters: The Next Generation of Combat Aircraft. Norwalk, Connecticut: AIRtime Publishing Inc., 2002. ISBN 1-880588-53-6. 
  • Wilson, Stewart. Combat Aircraft since 1945. Fyshwick, Australia: Aerospace Publications, 2000. ISBN 1-875671-50-1. 

External links[edit]