Sukhoi Su-34

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MAKS Airshow 2013 (Ramenskoye Airport, Russia) (527-15).jpg
Russian Air Force Su-34
Role Fighter-bomber,[1] strike fighter
Manufacturer Sukhoi
First flight 13 April 1990
Introduction 20 March 2014[2][3]
Status In service
Primary user Russian Air Force
Produced 2006–present[4][5]
Number built 65 as of December 2014[6][7]
Unit cost
US$36 million[8][9]
Developed from Sukhoi Su-27

The Sukhoi Su-34 (Russian: Сухой Су-34) (NATO reporting name: Fullback) is a Russian twin-engine, twin-seat strike fighter.[10][11][12] It is intended to replace the Sukhoi Su-24.[13]

Based on Sukhoi Su-27 'Flanker', the two-seat 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 EW counter-measures deployed, as well as for air reconnaissance. Because it is based on the Su-27 family, it can also carry out air-to-air missions (interception/air superiority), as a secondary role.[14][15][16]


The Su-34 had a muddied and protracted beginning.[17] In the mid-1980s, Sukhoi began developing a new tatical 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.[18] 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 Soviet aircraft carrier Ulyanovsk; this was the result of the political upheaval in the Soviet Union and its subsequent disintegration.[17][18]

In August 1990 a photograph taken by a TASS officer showed an aircraft making a dummy approach towards Tbilisi carrier.[17][18] 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.[19] 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").[20] 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.[21] Flight tests continued throughout 1990 and into 1991.[18]

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.[19]

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.[19] 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.[17] The first aircraft built to production standard made its first flight on 28 December 1994.[17] It was fitted with a fire-control system, at the heart of which was the Leninets OKB-designed V004 passive electronically scanned array radar.[17] It was different enough from the earlier versions that it was re-designated the "Su-34".[19] 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 for the Russian Naval Aviation. Sukhoi also promoted the Su-34 as the "Su-32MF" (MnogoFunksionalniy, "multi-function").[17]

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.[22]


Russian Air Force 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.[23] The Su-34 has a maximum range of 4,000 km (with the armament) without refuelling, and 7,000 km with aerial refueling.[24]

The Su-34 has a three-surface planform, with a conventional horizontal tailplane, twin-tail at the rear and a pair of canard foreplanes in front of the wings for extra lift (force) and more manoeuvring capability. The Su-34 has 12 hardpoints for up to 12,000 kilograms of ordnance,[25] intended to include the latest Russian precision-guided weapons. It retains the Su-27/Su-30's 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon.[26] Able to carry air-to-air missiles R-77 (pcs 6) and R-73 (still 6). Maximum weight a single of the munition 4000 kg. The maximum range of the munition for the attack 250 km.[27][28]

Sukhoi Su-34 cockpit simulator

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.[29] The crew members have room to stand and move about the cabin during long missions.[30][31] The space between the seats allows them to lie down in the corridor, if necessary.[29] A toilet and a galley are located behind the crew seats.[29][30] Entrance into the cockpit is from below, using a ladder attached to the nose landing gear and a hatch in the cockpit floor. The cockpit is a continuous capsule of armour.[32]

Maximum detection major range for the forward radar is 200–250 km (to review the rear another aft-mounted radar is used).[24] The main radar can simultaneously attack the 4 targets (in the air, on land or on the water).[24] The rear warning radar system can warn of attack from behind and it can also attack from behind with R-73 (missile)s, without turning the aircraft.[24] Radar defence the rear as claimed unofficially this N-012 radar.[32]

Operational history[edit]

Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber from Lipetsk air base

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.[33]

The Russian Air Force completed the final stage of the state tests on 19 September 2011.[34] The aircraft entered service in early 2014.[2] The Su-34 was rumoured to have been used by Russian command during the 2008 South Ossetia war.[35] Russia plans to have 92 in use to 2020.[36] Later planned to get up to 200.[37]

Orders and deliveries[edit]

An initial batch of eight Su-32 were completed by the Novosibirsk factory in 2004.[38] In March 2006, Russia's Minister of Defence Sergei Ivanov announced that the government had purchased the first 5 preproduction-serial Su-34s for the Russian Air Force. In the late 2008, a second contract was signed for delivery of the next 32 aircraft by 2015.[8] A total of 70 aircraft were to be purchased by 2015 to replace some 300 Russian Su-24s, which were at the time going through a modernization program.[9] 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.[39] This was confirmed by Air Force chief Vladimir Mikhaylov on 6 March 2007.[40] Two Su-34s were delivered in 2006-2007, and three more were delivered by the end of 2009.[8] On 9 January 2008, Sukhoi reported that the Su-34 has begun full-rate production.[41]

The final stage of the state tests were completed on 19 September 2011.[34]

Sukhoi Su-34 at the MAKS 2013

The Russian Air Force received another four Su-34s on 28 December 2010,[42] as combat units in airbases first received six Su-34s in 2011.[43] 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.[44] In December 2012 it was reported that Sukhoi delivered five aircraft (transferred under the 2012 State Defense Order).[45] In January 2013, Sukhoi delivered another batch of 5 Su-34 aircraft. They flew directly from the Novosibirsk aircraft plant to an air base in Voronezh, Russia.[46] On 6 May 2013, the first Sukhoi Su-34s under defence procurement plan in 2013 was delivered to the air force.[47]

On 9 July 2013, three more Su-34s were delivered 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.[48] As of the end of 2013, Sukhoi completed 2008 contract and started deliveries on 2012 contract.[49]

In August 2013, Sukhoi signed a contract with the Kazan-based Radiopribor holding company for 184 "friend-or-foe" transponders for the Su-34 to be delivered by 2020.[50]

On 10 June 2014, Russia1 TV reported a further delivery of Su-34s was made to the 559th Regiment at Morozovsk.[51] Another three aircraft were delivered on 18 July 2014.[52] Six more were delivered on 15 October 2014.[6] 18 aircraft were delivered in 2014,[53][54] and 20 planned to be delivered in 2015.[55]



Russian Air Force – 57 aircraft + 8 prototypes as of December 2014[6][56]

Specifications (Su-34)[edit]

Frontal view of the Su-34
Su-34 taxiing
Sukhoi Su-34 schematic

Data from Sukhoi data,[60] Gordon and Davison,[61] AF Technology,[62],[63][64]

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 [25] (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[65] turbofans
  • Internal fuel: 12,100 kg (15,400 l)



  • Guns: 1× 30 mm GSh-30-1 (9A-4071K) cannon, 150–180 rounds[66]
  • Hardpoints: 12× wing and fuselage stations with a capacity of 8,000–12,000 kg[25][67] 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
      • P-800 Oniks missile (SS-N-26 Strobile) anti-ship missile (version for the Air Force). Version he named "Alpha"[68] weight of 1500 kg with a range of up to 300 km and a speed in the range of numbers M = 2.2-3.0. Officially not in service.[68][69]
      • 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 litres PTB-3000 Suspended Fuel Tanks, EW and reconnaissance pods.

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



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  • 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]