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Russian Defense Ministry finalizes contract for 76 Su-34

The Russian Defense Ministry agreed the details of a contract for a new batch of Su-34 frontline bombers. At least 76 aircraft have to be delivered by 2027. Su-34 will be built in an upgraded option with modern arms and a set of reconnaissance equipment. Experts believe the bombers will reinforce the Aerospace Forces, the Izvestia daily writes.

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Russian Defense Ministry finalizes contract for 76 Su 34 01 Su-34 (Picture source: Air Recognition)

Defense Ministry and industry sources said the details of the contract had been agreed. Although the document has not been signed yet, defense enterprises have ordered components for the project. The procurement list (obtained by the daily) said 76 upgraded bombers have to be built. Each year up to 2027 from eight to 14 bombers will be built. The first units for the assembly have to be supplied in the second half of 2020.

The first contract for Su-34 was signed in 2008. The Defense Ministry procured 32 bombers. Another major contract was signed in 2012 for 92 aircraft.

All Su-34 have to be upgraded in the framework of Sych R&D. The upgrade includes avionics, precision arms and a set of suspended reconnaissance containers.

The upgraded option was preliminary designated as Su-34M. UAC CEO Yuri Slyusar said in December 2019 the aircraft will exceed the basic model in combat capabilities two times.

As the production cycle is long and lasts from component procurement to the handover of the end product, the Defense Ministry allowed the Sukhoi Company to begin preparations for batch production before the official signing of the contract.

It is a usual practice conditioned by several factors, merited test pilot and Hero of Russia Igor Malikov said. Firstly, the production of some components takes six months and more. The enterprise should have everything necessary at hand to immediately begin producing the aircraft after the contract is signed.

Secondly, the producer wants to buy components at current prices. Thirdly, the defense enterprises should not stay idle.

“The deadlines of the arms procurement order are strictly monitored. If a supplier lets them down, the construction can drag and the producer will be responsible for it. Therefore, a prudent director signs contracts for components in advance,” he said.

Russian Defense Ministry finalizes contract for 76 Su 34 02 Su-34 in flight (Picture source: Air Recognition)

Three replaceable suspended containers with reconnaissance equipment are being designed for the bomber in the framework of Sych R&D. They exceed the capabilities of the inbuilt equipment and provide new capabilities in target detection.

The UKR-RT container is designed for radio-technical reconnaissance, UKR-OE for optic-electronic and UKR-RL for radar reconnaissance. They all use the same data bus to interface with the aircraft.

The suspended equipment will make Su-34 detect radars and radio stations at hundreds of kilometers and determine their coordinates. UKR-RL container can engage in reconnaissance in any time of the day and in heavy clouds.

Su-34 will replace Su-24 bombers which cannot fight fighter jets, former Commander of the 4th air force and defense army Hero of Russia Vitaly Gorbenko said. “It is a new generation aircraft capable of fighter jet and bomber missions. In Soviet time, we had fighter-bomber aviation, but it was lost in 1990s. Su-34 with new avionics and sights fills in the medium bomber niche. It properly operated in Syria, can fight at the frontline, and has a good firing range and can refuel in the air. It is a prospective aircraft. It is good to have another two powerful regiments,” he said.

Russian Defense Ministry finalizes contract for 76 Su 34 03 Su-24M of the Russian Air Force in flight. Su-34 will replace Su-24 bombers which cannot fight fighter jets (Picture source: Alexander Mishin)

Su-34 strikes with guided and unguided weapons at ground and sea targets. Its flight characteristics allow engaging in air combat. Su-34 in Syria sometimes carried suspended air-to-air R-73 short-range and R-27 medium-range missiles.

It is armed with powerful Khibiny electronic warfare to break through air defense. It can neutralize adversary radars and defend itself and nearby aircraft.

The Defense Ministry received over 120 S-34 in 2008-2020. Their strength will be close to 200 after the new contract is fulfilled, the Izvestia said.

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