Russia is ramping up the production of its sophisticated Su-34 fighter bombers amid its ongoing invasion and occupation of Ukraine.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has recently called for an increased production of Su-34 jet aircraft as Russia continues its prolonged offensive in Ukraine.
Amidst a massive spending surge to meet military demands, Shoigu emphasized the pivotal role of the Su-34, which conducts multiple sorties daily.
During his recent visit to an aeronautical manufacturing base in Novosibirsk, Siberia, he urged manufacturers to expedite the large-scale production to outpace the 2024 schedule and meet the surging demand for the aircraft.
“This aircraft is the main workforce, it has four or five sorties every day,” he remarked. “So we need to step up, hurry up.”
Shoigu also highlighted the successful coordination between the defense industry and the Ministry of Defense in delivering new Su-34 aircraft and upgrading existing ones.
Russian Defence Minister Shoigu visited Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association Plant.
Shoigu said the delivery of new Su-34 fighter-bombers and the modification of those in service with the troops are carried out according to schedule, the contract for 2024 has been… pic.twitter.com/SDlDvqLja4
— Clash Report (@clashreport) October 6, 2023
The Kremlin’s heightened defense spending, now comprising six percent of Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP), reflects its wartime economic pivot in the face of unprecedented Western sanctions as its Ukrainian offensive enters its twentieth month.
An Advanced Russian Fighter-Bomber
The Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber, recognized by NATO as the Fullback, stands as one of Russia’s more advanced and recent additions to its fighter aircraft fleet.
Derived from the Su-27 Flanker (1985), the Su-34 has a distinctive side-by-side cockpit configuration and unique ‘platypus’ nose design.
First taking flight in 1990, this formidable aircraft boasts a maximum range of 2,485 miles and a substantial payload capacity of up to 26,455 pounds or 12 missiles beneath its wings. While it retains the Su-27’s basic layout, it incorporates advancements in the airframe construction, engines, wing structure, tail, and onboard equipment, along with canards borrowed from the Su-30 (1992) to enhance maneuverability.
The Su-34 features a modern glass cockpit equipped with color multi-function displays, along with an advanced multi-mode phased array radar capable of terrain following. Essential components and systems are armored, and the aircraft is equipped with comprehensive electronic countermeasures gear.
In recent years, a modernized version, the Su-34M, has come to fruition, tailored for reconnaissance and air defense suppression roles.
Nonetheless, with its participation in the invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022, it has been reported that Russia may have lost as many as 22 Su-34 aircraft, according to open-source intelligence from the website Oryx.
Su-34 Fullback Takes the Lead in Bombing Runs
The Su-34 Fullback fighter-bomber is currently taking center stage as it conducts regular bombing missions on Ukrainian positions, raising concerns among experts about the challenges it poses to Ukrainian forces as they prepare for another winter of conflict.
The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) have deployed cutting-edge warplanes, including the Su-35, Su-34, and MiG-31, for air-to-air attacks and ground strikes in Ukraine. Ukrainian pilots have singled out the Su-35 as their “biggest enemy.”
Among these aircraft, the MiG-31K stands out for its ability to fire Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, which Russia touts as virtually invincible. Despite Ukrainian claims of intercepting these missiles, some have reportedly hit their intended targets.
The MiG-31 Foxhounds, armed with long-range Vympel R-37M air-to-air missiles, have also gained recognition for flying high-altitude patrols and downing Ukrainian fighter jets that struggle with their altitude and range.
However, the Su-34 bomber has recently seized the spotlight, even amidst the impressive performances of other Russian aircraft.
Deployed by the VKS, this twin-engine, twin-seat fighter-bomber is conducting air-to-ground strikes and bombing runs against Ukrainian forces. The Su-34, operating in Russia’s Central Military District, has targeted command and observation posts, drone control centers, and armored vehicles in the Krasnolimansk direction.
Russia’s Strategic Edge in Winter Warfare
Observers worldwide are closely watching these developments. A columnist for China National Radio (CNR), Song Bo, noted that with the Su-34 now equipped with long-range cruise missiles, pressure on Ukraine is expected to intensify during the winter months.
Song Bo highlighted that the Su-34 is becoming the world’s first fighter-bomber capable of launching strategic ammunition.
By equipping the Su-34 with long-range cruise missiles, #Russia's capacity to hit deep inside enemy territory and aim for multiple targets at the same time has received a major boost, #Chinese #military pundit Shao Yongling said.#Moscow #Defense #Kremlin #Putin #Ukraine
— Sputnik India (@Sputnik_India) September 30, 2023
Meanwhile, military expert Shao Yongling emphasized that this combination of the Su-34 with cruise missiles enhances Russia’s capacity for long-range attacks and precision targeting.
Shao Yongling further suggested that if the Su-34 is tasked with firing long-range missiles on Ukrainian targets this winter, the security situation for Ukraine will deteriorate.
Moscow appears to be heavily arming the Su-34 along the frontlines, suggesting that the aircraft may assume additional roles as the 19-month-long conflict shows no signs of ending.
The Su-34 is now emerging as a formidable adversary for Ukraine, overshadowing the Su-35 and MiG-31 fighters.
As Russia ramps up production of this advanced aircraft, it is clear how the Su-34 has become a key player in conducting bombing runs and air-to-ground strikes and challenging Ukrainian forces as they brace for another winter of conflict. With the Su-34 equipped with long-range cruise missiles, experts anticipate increased pressure on Ukraine in the coming months.