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Su-34 bombers to redeploy at reconstructed Voronezh base

An air regiment of Su-34 frontline bombers will redeploy to Baltimore airfield in Voronezh in October. The airbase has been radically upgraded. It was pulled down and built anew. It now has the necessary infrastructure, aircraft shelters and weapon dumps. Su-34 can operate in the Russian west from there and reinforce the troops in Crimea, the Caucasus and the Black Sea fleet, the Izvestia daily writes.

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Su 34 bombers to redeploy at reconstructed Voronezh base Sukhoi Su-34 (Picture source: Russian air force)

The 47th combined air regiment armed with Su-34 bombers will redeploy to Voronezh from Buturlinovka airfield. The unit was previously based in Voronezh, but withdrawn several years ago.

Head of the Air Force Academy in Voronezh Gennady Zibrov earlier said two training squadrons will return together with the 47th regiment. They are currently deployed in Borisoglebsk and Balashov. The airbase reconstruction is to be completed in 2023-2024. It will have modern housing for pilots and barracks and an automobile base for auxiliary units.

The history of the 47th combined air regiment goes back to a bomber regiment with the same number. It was the first unit to receive serial Su-34. The airstrip in Buturlinovka did not allow the operation of fully loaded and fuelled aircraft. Upgraded Baltimore does not have such restrictions.

“Su-34 is fit for any theater of warfare. It has good distance characteristics and an air refueling capability,” former Commander of the 4th air force and defense army Lieutenant-General Valery Gorbenko said. “The aircraft is a continuation of Su-24 with expanded capabilities and modern technologies. It is a new generation of frontline bombers capable of operating in any direction,” he said. The aircraft in Voronezh can be engaged in western and northwestern directions and, if necessary, reinforce the troops in the Black Sea, Crimea and the Caucasus, he added.

The airfield with the unusual name of Baltimore is located in the Soviet district of Voronezh five kilometers from downtown city. It was built yet in 1930s and called Voronezh-B.

The large-scale reconstruction worth over nine billion rubles began in 2013 and the project has several times changed. A huge base for two hundred aircraft was initially planned. A second airstrip had to be built and parking lots for aircraft expanded. However, the Defense Ministry dropped the idea to keep all aircraft in eight similar bases. A change in the project and the elimination of Spetsstroi contractor in 2016 delayed the reconstruction.

The new and longer airstrip demanded major investments. It was built with reinforced concrete close to the old one and is 3.6km long. The airstrip is fit for fully loaded Su-34 and heavier aircraft.

Russia currently has four regiments armed with Su-34. The air refueling capability provides a strategic range to the bomber. The aircraft twice refueled in the air and flew 8,000 from Lipetsk to Khabarovsk non-stop. Test pilots made even longer flights. The Russian Aerospace Forces operate over a hundred Su-34. The Defense Ministry plans to procure upgraded Su-34M bombers, the Izvestia said.