The Russian Aerospace Forces has inducted its first batch of upgraded Su-34 multipurpose bombers, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced.
The ministry stated that “several” Su-34Ms entered the bomber unit of the Army of the Air Force and Air Defense of the Eastern Military District at the end of June. The district is located in the far eastern Khabarovsk Territory, near the Russia-China border.
The aircraft are operational and being used for training flights.
76 Su-34Ms By 2027: Report
Russia ordered 76 Su-34Ms in 2020, with delivery expected by 2027, Military Watch Magazine wrote. The number of aircraft will reportedly be enough to replace “two regiments of Su-24M strike platforms” being phased out.
The aircraft will also replace “the much larger, long-distance Tu-22M3,” according to Russia Beyond.
Russia began inducting the twin-engine twin-seater Su-34 in 2014. The aircraft is based on the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker air superiority fighter, and has been designed to perform bombing and aerial combat missions.
The aircraft is fitted with “AL-31F turbojet engines with afterburners and the Sh-141 radar station to detect ground and air targets.”
The aircraft’s armor-shielded cabin allows it to attack targets from a low altitude, while its recently outfitted Kh-35U anti-ship air-to-surface missile is capable of sinking a mid-sized vessel from a distance of 250 km (155 miles).
The ministry stated that the Su-34M will feature an upgraded electronic system, “high precision weapons and a set of several hanging containers with reconnaissance equipment.”