The Russian Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback Comprehensive Details

The Sukhoi Su-34 FullBack, renowned for its exceptional capabilities as a potent strike aircraft, stands as the epitome of engineering and technological excellence. Here are The Russian Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback Comprehensive Details, highlighting the engineering and technological processes behind this formidable strike aircraft. The Sukhoi Su-34 FullBack serves as a formidable air superiority strike aircraft, constructed upon the foundation of the Sukhoi 27 Flanker.

Its armoured cockpit accommodates two pilots side-by-side, fostering an unbeatable team dynamic. Having completed its inaugural flight in 1990, the Su-34 Fullback was initially designed for the Soviet Air Force. Its induction into the Russian Air Force service in 2014 marked a milestone achievement for this remarkable aircraft.

The Su-34 Fullback Comprehensive Details refers to the incredible engineering and technological capabilities of the fighter-bomber aircraft. This remarkable twin-seat aircraft was developed by the renowned Russian company Sukhoi in the 1990s and entered service with the Russian Air Force in 2014.

With a maximum speed of around 2,000 km/h (1,243 mph) and a range of up to 4,000 km (2,485 miles), the Su-34 ( Nato reporting name Fullback ) is capable of operating in all weather conditions, day or night. Its advanced avionics and electronic warfare systems, including a jamming system that can disrupt enemy radar and communications, make it an ideal aircraft for both defence and offence.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / The Russian Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback Comprehensive Details
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography / The Russian Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback Comprehensive Details

Additionally, the Su-34 has a large weapons payload capacity and can carry a variety of weapons, such as guided bombs, missiles, and rockets. It has been utilized by the Russian Air Force in several military operations and has been exported to other countries, including Algeria. Overall, the Su-34’s impressive capabilities illustrate why it is a vital component of Russia’s military arsenal.

The aircraft’s primary purpose is tactical deployment against both ground and naval targets, encompassing roles such as tactical bombing, attack, and interdiction, including engagements with small and mobile targets. It operates effectively during solo and group missions, conducting operations both day and night, under various weather conditions, and even in hostile environments where counter-fire and electronic warfare (EW) countermeasures are deployed. Additionally, the aircraft serves aerial reconnaissance functions. In the future, the aircraft is anticipated to assume the roles currently held by the Tu-22M long-range bomber and the Su-24 tactical attack fighter.

Photo Credit: Pavel
Photo Credit: Pavel

The Evolutionary Analysis Of Su-34

The development of the Su-34 began in the 1980s, and the first prototype flew in 1990. The design of the Su-34 was based on the Su-27 fighter jet, but it was modified to serve as a fighter bomber with enhanced range and payload capabilities.

In the 1980s, Sukhoi began working on a new combat aircraft to replace the Su-24. They needed an aircraft that could do many things well, but it was hard to design one that could do everything. So, they decided to use the Su-27 as the basis for the new aircraft. The Su-27 was a great fighter jet that could do many things, like fly a long way and carry lots of things. The new aircraft was developed from the Su-27’s naval trainer version, called the T10KM-2, and the project was called T-10V. However, the project was stopped at the end of the 1980s because of political changes in the Soviet Union.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography

During the development process, the Sukhoi Design Bureau faced several challenges, including the need to improve the aircraft’s aerodynamic stability, increase its fuel capacity, and reduce its radar signature. The design team also had to incorporate new avionics, navigation, and weapon systems to meet the requirements of modern combat operations.

In 1992, the Su-27IB aircraft was shown to the public at the MAKS Airshow. At the exhibition, the aircraft demonstrated its ability to refuel mid-air using an Il-78 aircraft and also performed impressive aerobatic manoeuvres. The aircraft was formally displayed to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States ( CIS ) during a summit on February 13, 1992. The Su-27IB was also displayed at the MAKS Airshow the following year, where it made another appearance for the public to see.

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The next version of the Su-34, which was the first aircraft built for production and testing, was called the T10V-2. It had its first flight on December 18, 1993, with two pilots named Igor Votintsev and Yevgeniy Revoonov at the controls. The T10V-2 was built in Novosibirsk, which is the same place where Su-24s were made. This aircraft looked different from the original prototype because it had modified vertical stabilizers and a longer “stinger” in the back. The stinger housed a rearward-facing warning radar called the N012, as well as the drogue chute and the fuel jettison outlet. The aircraft also had twin tandem main undercarriage.

The first Su-34 built for production had its first flight on December 28, 1994. This version had a lot of improvements from the earlier versions, like a fire-control system and a radar that could scan electronically without giving off any signals. It was so different that they decided to give it a new name, the Su-34. However, at the Paris Air Show in 1995, they called it the Su-32FN instead. This name was given to show that the aircraft might be used for the Russian Naval Aviation, which is part of the military that handles aircraft for the navy that is based on land, not on aircraft carriers.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography

The Design Phase Of Su-34

The Su-34 aircraft is similar to the Su-27/Su-30 in many ways, such as its wing structure, tail, and engine nacelles. It also has canards, like other Su planes, which helps it to be more manoeuvrable and reduces trim drag. The Su-34 is powered by two Saturn AL-31FM1 turbofan engines, the same as the Su-27SM, which allow it to travel up to a maximum speed of Mach 1.8+ even when fully loaded.

Though it is slower than the standard Su-27, it is still capable of handling high G-loads and performing aerobatic manoeuvres. With a full weapons load, the aircraft can fly up to 4,000 km ( 2,500 mi; 2,200 nmi ) and even further with aerial refuelling. The aircraft is able to perform manoeuvres of up to +9 g and has a noise level two times lower than its predecessors.

The Su-34 aircraft has three lifting surfaces, with a conventional horizontal tailplane at the back and a canard foreplane in front of the main wings. The foreplane provides extra lift and helps the plane manoeuvre more easily. The aircraft also has two tail fins, like the Su-27 from which it is derived. It has 12 hardpoints capable of carrying 12,000–14,000 kg ( 26,000–31,000 lb ) of ordnance, including the latest Russian precision-guided weapons.

The Su-34 aircraft also has a 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon, which is the same as the ones on the Su-27 and Su-30 planes. In addition to the cannon, the plane can carry up to six R-77 or R-73 air-to-air missiles, which are used for defence against attackers if detected by the rearward-facing radar. The maximum weight of any single munition carried by the plane is 4,000 kg (8,800 lb).

Photo Credit: military today
Photo Credit: military today

The plane’s stand-off weapons have a range of up to 250 km ( 160 mi ), which allows it to attack targets from a safe distance. The Su-34 also comes equipped with a Khibiny electronic countermeasures ( ECM ) system as standard, which helps to protect the plane from enemy radar detection and other electronic threats.

The Su-34, which is a part of the Flanker family, has a unique feature that sets it apart from other members of the family. It has a brand new “Duckbill” nose and forward fuselage designed specifically to increase the space inside the cabin and maximize the comfort and safety of the crew. This design is so distinctive that the aircraft has earned several nicknames, including “Duckling,” “Hellduck,” and “Platypus.”

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The two pilots of the aircraft sit side-by-side in NPP Zvezda K-36 DM ejection seats. The pilot commander sits on the left, and the navigator and weapon operator sit on the right. This cockpit design has several advantages, including not requiring duplicate instruments for each pilot. This can make it easier for the crew to communicate and work together during long missions.

To ensure the comfort of the crew during long missions, this aircraft has a pressurization system that allows it to operate at altitudes of up to 10,000 meters ( 32,800 feet ) without requiring the use of oxygen masks. However, oxygen masks are still available in case of emergencies or combat situations.

The aircraft’s crew cabin is designed to prioritize comfort and safety for pilots during long missions. The spacious cabin allows the crew members to move around freely and even lie down in the space between the seats if needed. To address the basic necessities, a hand-held urinal “toilet” and vacuum flask “kitchen” are also available. To enter the cockpit, a ladder attached to the nose landing gear and a hatch in the cockpit floor is provided. Moreover, the cockpit is designed as a continuous capsule of armour to ensure the safety of pilots during combat situations.

Photo Credit: military today
Photo Credit: military today

After rigorous testing, the Su-34’s final stage of state trials was successfully completed on 19 September 2011, which paved the way for its entry into service in early 2014. The Russian military has already started using this aircraft and has ambitious plans for its future deployment. By 2020, Russia is aiming to have 124 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets in active service. Moreover, the country has plans to further increase its inventory of Su-34s to a total of 200 aircraft, demonstrating the country’s commitment to maintaining a strong and modern air force. These highly advanced fighter jets will play a crucial role in protecting the country’s airspace, providing a formidable defence against any potential threats.

The Operational Usage Of Su-34 as of 2023

Russian military action in Syria in 2015:  This was one of the main aircraft used by the Russian Air Force during its intervention in Syria. The aircraft was primarily used for ground attacks and bombing missions, targeting ISIS and other rebel groups. During the conflict, it was used extensively in ground support operations, providing close air support to Syrian government forces and targeting rebel positions and infrastructure. It was also used in bombing runs against ISIS targets, including training camps, ammunition depots, and command and control centres.

The aircraft’s advanced avionics and weapons systems made it well-suited to the challenging operating environment in Syria, where the aircraft operated in close proximity to Russian ground forces and other aircraft. The aircraft’s ability to carry out precision strikes against enemy targets also helped to minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties.

Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography
Photo Credit: Hesja Air-Art Photography

2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia:  During the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the Russian Air Force has primarily deployed the Su-34 as one of its main aircraft, along with the Su-30, MiG-29 and MiG-31. But This versatile fighter-bomber has been instrumental in targeting crucial military installations and has been utilized for ground attack and bombing missions, unleashing a barrage of unguided bombs to devastating effect.

Unfortunately for Russian forces, the aircraft has proven to be a vulnerable asset in the face of Ukrainian air defence systems. Since the beginning of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, there have been 19 visually confirmed instances of Su-34s being lost, damaged, or abandoned by Russian forces, hampering their aerial capabilities in the conflict.

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Photo Credit: Pavel Vanka

Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback Technical Specifications

  • Pilot:  Two
  • Length:  76 ft 7 in ( 23.34 m )
  • Wingspan:  48 ft 3 in ( 14.7 m )
  • Height:  20 ft ( 6.10 m )
  • Empty Weight:  22,500 kg ( 49,604 lb )
  • Max Takeoff Weight:  45,100 kg ( 99,429 lb )
  • Payload:  12,000 kg ( 26,000 lb )
  • Hardpoints:  12
  • Powerplant:  2 x Saturn AL-31FM1 afterburning turbofan engines with a combined maximum thrust of 132 kN ( 30,000 lb )
  • Max Speed:  Mach 1.8 ( 1,900 km/h ) and Mach 1.2 ( 1,400 km/h ) at Sea level
  • Combat range:  1,200 km ( 746 miles ) radius of action ( with 12,000 kg weapons load )
  • Ferry range:  4,500 km ( 2,800 miles )
  • Service ceiling:   56,000 ft ( 17,000 m )
  • g limits:  +9/−3
  • Armament: The formidable aircraft is armed with a single 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon, boasting an ammunition capacity of 180 rounds, ensuring relentless firepower. It further showcases its might with a staggering array of guided missiles, expertly mounted on its 12 hard points. These include the versatile R-27, agile R-73, and advanced R-77 AAM, ideal for air-to-air engagements. Additionally, the aircraft carries a formidable assortment of Kh-series missiles, such as the Kh-29, Kh-31, Kh-35, Kh-38, Kh-58, and Kh-59 ASM, offering the capability to engage both ships and ground targets with devastating precision. To further enhance its versatility, the aircraft is equipped to carry both guided and unguided bombs, allowing it to dominate the battlefield with unparalleled force and strategic prowess.

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Photo Credit: military today
Photo Credit: military today

In conclusion, the Su-34 has been a significant asset for the Russian Air Force, but its vulnerability to modern air defence systems has become apparent during the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The loss, damage, or abandonment of 19 Su-34s has severely limited the Russian forces’ ability to conduct air operations in the conflict. As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how the Russian military will adapt to this challenge and overcome its aerial limitations. Nevertheless, the Su-34’s performance in this conflict underscores the importance of innovation, resilience, and adaptability in modern warfare.

Open-source illustrative image / The Fullback is armed with one Kh-59 under the center fuselage, two Kh-31 ASM under the engines, and two R-27 and R-73 AAMs under the wings.
Open-source illustrative image / The Fullback is armed with one Kh-59 under the centre fuselage, two Kh-31 ASM under the engines, and two R-27 and R-73 AAMs under the wings.

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