MAKS 2011: Russian Air Force Chief Outlines Sukhoi Su-34 Procurement Plan

 - August 22, 2011, 5:20 AM
An Su-34 taxies at MAKS 2011. The strike aircraft is slowly replacing older aircraft in the Russian air force inventory. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

A total of 12 Sukhoi Su-34 interdiction aircraft are being procured this year, according to Russian air force commander General Alexander Zelin, speaking last week at the Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2011). The service is seeking a total of 120 Su-34s, Zelin said.

The Su-34 will replace aging Su-24 swing-wing aircraft that are currently the most numerous type in Russian air force’s combat aircraft inventory and the backbone of its frontal bomber units. To date, the Russian air force has accepted seven Su-34s into squadron service. In addition, a handful of such machines fly with Russian MoD weapons assessment units and the industry.

Five squadrons will operate the Su-34, flying with 24. Production at Sukhoi’s NAPO plant in Novosibirsk is gradually picking up. The Russian air force has placed firm orders for 32 Su-34s to date, and intends to have 70 Su-34s in 2015. The Su-34 holds a prominent position in Russia’s State Arms Acquisition Program that was validated earlier this year and runs until 2020.

The Su-34 is powered by two AL-31FM engines developed by NPO Saturn and produced by MMPP Salut. The airplane can carry eight metric tons (17,600 pounds) of weapons on 12 hard points.

Last year, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev offered China an exportable version, the Su-32, but so far there is no indication that China or any other foreign country is seeking to procure this aircraft.