Russia acquired new Su-34Ms with rear-hemisphere scanning radar
MOSCOW ($1=63.32 Russian Rubles) — The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has announced that the Eastern Military District has acquired four Su-34M bombers, which are an update version of the Su-34.
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According to the director-general of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation Yuriy Slyusar, the Su-34M has twice the combat capability of the original Su-34, with a dedicated interface for three different types of sensors maximizing situational awareness, including the UKR-RT capsule carrying electronic measures for search, camera UKR-OE and UKR-RL, which integrates a synthetic aperture radar.
Air-to-air combat capabilities will also be improved, potentially making it easier to integrate new weapons such as K77M missiles from the Su-57. Slightly modified specialized variants, including an electronic attack aircraft equipped with the L700 Tarantul ECM pod and reconnaissance, and surveillance variant, will also reportedly join the fleet.
Some reports also indicate that the aircraft will integrate a rear-facing Kopyo-DL radar that scans the rear hemisphere of the aircraft and warns of enemy missiles approaching the aircraft and automatically fires active self-defense means if necessary.
The new aircraft has been put into service for training and are expected to be in high demand with front-line units in theaters ranging from Syria and Ukraine to the Arctic and the Pacific.
The Russian Air Force has received the first batch of new Su-34M strike fighters, just over two years after the first orders were placed in the last week of May 2020, with 76 expected to be delivered to the fleet by the end of the current year.
This should bring the fleet to nearly 200 aircraft, with 124 Su-34s already in service by the end of 2021, although at least one was lost in action over Ukraine [other sources say between eight and ten for that lost Su-34 in Ukraine]. The Su-34 has been the most popular fighter class in the Russian Ministry of Defense, and over the past eight years, more have entered service than any other class, including the complementary Su-30 and Su-35.
This is largely due to the unique capabilities of the platform, allowing it to replace not only the aging fleet of several hundred Su-24M strike fighters but also some of the country’s Tu-22M bombers, with which the new aircraft has a comparable range, although it is a fraction of the size.
Derived from the Su-27 Flanker design like most Russian fighters in production today, the Su-34 represents the most heavily modified variant due to its very different role, where the air superiority airframe has been modified into a long-range bomber. air defense suppression, cruise missile strike, and anti-shipping missions with a not insignificant secondary air-to-air capability.
The fighter also benefits from a reduced forward radar cross-section that is as low as that of a cruise missile, making it more viable than most Flanker derivatives.
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