|Su-34 / Su-32|
|A Russian Air Force Su-34|
|Role||Fighter-bomber, strike fighter|
|First flight||13 April 1990|
|Introduction||20 March 2014|
|Primary user||Russian Air Force|
|Number built||127 (7 test and 120 serial aircraft)|
|Developed from||Sukhoi Su-27|
The Sukhoi Su-34 (Russian: Сухой Су-34; NATO reporting name: Fullback) is a Russian twin-engine, twin-seat, all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft. It first flew in 1990 and entered service in 2014 with the Russian Air Force.
Based on the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker air superiority fighter, the Su-34 has an armored cockpit for side-by-side seating of its two-man crew. The Su-34 is designed primarily for tactical deployment against ground and naval targets (tactical bombing/attack/interdiction roles, including against small and mobile targets) on solo and group missions in daytime and at night, under favourable and adverse weather conditions and in a hostile environment with counter-fire and electronic Warfare (EW) counter-measures deployed, as well as for aerial reconnaissance. The Su-34 will eventually replace the Su-24 tactical strike fighter and the Tu-22M3 long-distance bomber.
The Su-34 had a muddied and protracted beginning. In the mid-1980s, Sukhoi began developing a new tactical multirole combat 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. 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 the aircraft carrier Ulyanovsk; this was the result of the political upheaval in the Soviet Union and its subsequent disintegration.
In August 1990, a photograph taken by a TASS officer showed an aircraft making a dummy approach towards the aircraft carrier Tbilisi. 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. 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"). 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. Flight tests continued throughout 1990 and into 1991.
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.
The next prototype, and first pre-production aircraft, T10V-2, first flew on 18 December 1993, with Igor Votintsev and Yevgeniy Revoonov at the controls. 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 "stinger", which houses an N012 rearward-facing warning radar, plus the drag chute and as well as fuel jettison outlet. The first aircraft built to production standard made its first flight on 28 December 1994. It was fitted with a fire-control system, at the heart of which was the Leninets OKB-designed V004 passive electronically scanned array radar. It was different enough from the earlier versions that it was re-designated the "Su-34". However, at the 1995 Paris Air Show, the aircraft was allocated the "Su-32FN" designation, signalling the aircraft's potential role as a shore-based naval aircraft for the Russian Naval Aviation. Sukhoi also promoted the Su-34 as the "Su-32MF" (MnogoFunksionalniy, "multi-function").
Budget restrictions caused the programme to stall repeatedly. Nevertheless, flight testing continued, albeit at a slow pace. The third pre-production aircraft first flew in late 1996.
Russia's Ministry of Defence plans to modernize the Su-34; according to the deputy head of the military department, Yuriy Borisov, "We are planning to modernize the aircraft: prolong its service life, increase the number of airborne weapons. Plane is in great demand in our armed forces, and it has a great future."
Russia is developing two new versions of the aircraft: one for electronic warfare (L700 Tarantul ECM pod can provide electronic cover for a group of aircraft) and one for Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
Su-34M modernised version will feature a new electro-optical infrared targeting pod, a Kopyo-DL rear-ward facing radar that can warn the pilots if missiles are approaching, combined with automatic deployment of countermeasures and jamming.
Orders and deliveries
An initial batch of eight aircraft was completed by the Novosibirsk factory in 2004. In March 2006, Russia's Minister of Defence Sergei Ivanov announced the purchase of the first 5 pre-production Su-34s for the Russian Air Force. In late 2008, a second contract was signed for delivery of 32 aircraft by 2015. A total of 70 aircraft were to be purchased by 2015 to replace some 300 Russian Su-24s, which were then undergoing a modernization program. Ivanov claimed that as it is "many times more effective on all critical parameters", fewer of these newer bombers are required 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; and was confirmed by Air Force chief Vladimir Mikhaylov on 6 March 2007. Two Su-34s were delivered in 2006–2007, and three more were delivered by the end of 2009.
The Russian Air Force received another four Su-34s on 28 December 2010, as combat units in airbases first received six Su-34s in 2011. 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. In December 2012, Sukhoi reportedly delivered five aircraft under the 2012 State Defense Order. In January 2013, Sukhoi delivered a batch of 5 Su-34s, flying directly from the Novosibirsk aircraft plant to an air base in Voronezh, Russia. On 6 May 2013, the first Su-34s under the 2013 defence procurement plan were delivered.
On 9 July 2013, three more Su-34s were delivered in an official acceptance ceremony held at the Novosibirsk Aircraft Plant. These three aircraft were already in the new Russian Air Force camouflage scheme. By the end of 2013, Sukhoi completed the 2008 contract and started deliveries on 2012 contract.
On 10 June 2014, Russia1 TV reported a further delivery of Su-34s was made to the 559th Regiment at Morozovsk. Another three aircraft were delivered on 18 July 2014. 18 aircraft were delivered in 2014, and 20 planned to be delivered in 2015. It is intended to replace the Sukhoi Su-24 and the Tupolev Tu-22M3.
Sukhoi has delivered the first batch of Su-34s to the Russian Ministry of Defense under the 2015 order on 21 May 2015. On 16 July 2015, the Sukhoi Company handed over another batch of Su-34 frontline bombers to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. The transfer took place in the framework of the Unified Military Hardware Acceptance Day in the Sukhoi Company's branch — V.P.Chkalov Novosibirsk aviation plant.
The Su-34 shares most of its wing structure, tail, and engine nacelles with the Su-27/Su-30, with canards like the Su-30MKI, Su-33, and Su-27M/35 to increase static instability (higher manoeuvrability) and to reduce trim drag.
The Su-34 is powered by a pair of Saturn AL-31FM1 turbofan engines, the same engines used on the Su-27SM; giving the aircraft a maximum speed of Mach 1.8+ when fully loaded. Although having a slower maximum speed than the standard Su-27, the Su-34 can still handle high G-loads and perform aerobatic maneuvers. When equipped with a full weapons load, the Su-34 has a maximum range of 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) without refuelling, this can be extended further via aerial refueling. The airframe is also cleared to perform maneuvers of up to +9 g. The noise level of the Su-34 is two times lower than the level of its predecessors.
The Su-34 is a three-surface design having both a conventional horizontal tailplane at the rear and a canard foreplane in front of the main wings. The foreplane provides both additional lift (force) and greater maneuverability. It has twin tail fins like those of Su-27 from which it is derived. The Su-34 has 12 hardpoints for 8,000kg (17,600lb) 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, and the ability to carry R-77 air-to-air missiles (6 pcs) and R-73 (also 6), with the air-to-air missiles being primarily for defense against pursuers if detected by the rearward facing radar. The maximum weight of any single munition carried is 4000 kg, its stand-off weapons have range up to 250 kilometres (160 mi). A Khibiny electronic countermeasures (ECM) system is fitted as standard.
Compared to other members of the Su-27 family, the Su-34 has an entirely new nose and forward fuselage with an armored cockpit providing side-by-side seating for a crew of two, and the flattened nosecone earned it the nickname "Duckling" or the "Duckbill". This gives the aircraft its most distinctive feature, 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. The crew members have room to stand and move about the cabin during long missions. The space between the seats allows them to lie down in the corridor, if necessary. A galley and toilet are located behind the crew seats. A ladder attached to the nose landing gear and a hatch in the cockpit floor is used to enter the cockpit. The cockpit is a continuous capsule of armour (17 mm). The Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) acts as a command center: precision target designation of all onboard weapons is tied to the movement of the pilot's head and eyes.
The multifunctional Leninets V-004 main radar has terrain-following and terrain avoidance modes. Maximum detection range for the passive electronically scanned array forward radar is 200–250 km (against large surface targets), to cover the rear a second aft-facing radar is mounted. The main radar can simultaneously track ten air targets and attack four targets (in the air, on land or on the water). The radius of detection for fighter-sized targets is up to 120 km, the range of the survey is +/- 60 degrees. The rear warning radar system can warn of attack from behind and allow it to fire its R-73s against pursuers without needing to turn the aircraft. The rear radar is from Phazotron/Rassvet[disambiguation needed], and is unofficially called the N-012. The Su-34 reportedly has a frontal radar cross-section that is an order of magnitude smaller than prior generation fighters.
A new 4th generation radar Pika-M of the complex BKR-3, having a range up to 300 km, passed state tests in 2016.
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 exercise included aircraft carrying weapons at full load, simulated delivering them on a target before arriving at the Pacific coast base. Su-24Ms were refuelled three times, while the Su-34 was refuelled twice.
The Russian Air Force completed the final stage of the state tests on 19 September 2011. The aircraft entered service in early 2014. Russia plans to have 124 in use by 2020. This total is planned to increase to 200 later.
On 4 June 2015, a Su-34 had an accident in Russia's Voronezh region while conducting a routine training mission. The airplane's parachute failed to open after landing and the Su-34 slid off the runway and flipped over. Nobody was killed. In June 2016, the damaged Su-34 was transported on board Antonov An-124 to the Novosibirsk Aviation Plant to undergo repairs. The aircraft was probably returned in service in the same year.
On 18 January 2019, two Su-34s collided in mid-air in Russia's Far East, while performing a scheduled training flight. All Su-34 flights have been suspended throughout Russia following an accident.
2015 Russian military intervention in Syria
In September 2015, six Su-34s arrived at Latakia airport in Syria, for attacks against rebel and ISIL forces. Russian air attacks in Syria started on the 30 September, in the Homs region. On 1 October, the Su-34 was used to bomb Islamic State targets in Syria. The Russian Air Force Su-34 fighter-bombers destroyed an Islamic State command center and training camp south-west of the city of Raqqa. These included precision strikes from an altitude of over 5,000 m (16,400 ft). Russian Su-34 and Su-25 attack aircraft carried out air strikes the next day against Islamic State targets in Syria's Hama province using precision bombs. According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, Su-34s hit an ISIL fortified bunker in the Hama province with guided bombs. Fortifications, ammunition depots, seven units of the military equipment near Syria's Maarrat al-Numan were also destroyed by the Russian Air Force. An ISIL command center and underground depot were also destroyed with explosives near Raqqa. Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on 3 October, "Accurate delivery of a concrete-piercing bomb BETAB-500 launched from a Su-34 aircraft near Raqqa destroyed a hardened command centre of one of the illegal armed groups as well as an underground bunker with explosives and ammunition depot." A Russian Air Force representative stated Su-34s acquire targets using the GLONASS satellite system for bombing. During this time six Su-34s were in Syria maintaining a 70 percent availability rate for sorties. Eight more Su-34s arrived in Syria on 20 November 2015. Following the shooting down of a Su-24 by Turkey, Russia announced on 30 November 2015 that Su-34s in Syria had begun flying combat missions while armed with air-to-air missiles. On 16 August 2016, Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34 bombers, having taken off from their base in Hamadan [Islamic Republic of Iran], carried out group airstrikes against targets belonging to ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups in the provinces of Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and Idlib. On August 17, 2016, Russian Su-34 bombers carried out strikes from the Hamadan airfield on the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran against targets of the ISIS terrorist group in the province of Deir ez-Zor. Aircraft carried high-explosive bombs OFAB-500.
- Algerian Air Force – 12 aircraft reportedly ordered in 2016 and may order a total of 40 Su-34s.
- Russian Air Force – 127 aircraft as of December 2018. This includes also 7 prototypes/pre-production units.
- 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)
- Max. takeoff weight: 45,100 kg (99,425 lb)
- Internal fuel: 12,100 kg (15,400 l)
- Powerplant: 2 × Saturn AL-31FM1 turbofans
- Maximum speed: **At high altitude: Mach 1.8+ (≈2,000 km/h, 1,200 mph)
- At sea level: Mach 1.2 (1,400 km/h, 870 mph)
- Range: 1,100 km (680 mi; 590 nmi) at low altitude
- Combat radius: 1,100 km (standard 8,000 kg weapons load). (683 mi; 541 nmi)
- Ferry range: 4,000 km (2,490 mi; 2,160 nmi)
- Service ceiling: 15,000 m (49,200 ft)
- Thrust/weight: 0.68
- Maximum g-load: 9 g
- Guns: 1 × 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon with 180 rounds
- Hardpoints: 12 × on wing and fuselage with a capacity of 8,000kg (17,600lb) and provisions to carry combinations of:
- Rockets: ***B-8 rocket pods for 20 × S-8KOM/OM/BM
- Missiles: ***Air-to-air missiles:
- Air-to-surface missiles:
- Anti-ship missiles:
- Anti-radiation missiles:
- Cruise missiles:
- Bombs: ***KAB-500KR TV-guided bomb
- V004 passive electronically scanned array radar
- Khibiny electronic countermeasures system
- SAP-14 electronic coutermeasures system
- SAP-518 electronic coutermeasures system
- UKR-RT SIGINT radio surveillance system
- L150 Pastel Radar Warning Receiver
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Sukhoi Su-24
- Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
- McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle
- Shenyang J-16
- General Dynamics F-111, FB-111
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