Russia's Su-34 Fullback Fighter-Bomber Looks Like a Failure

Su-34 Russia
February 27, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaUkraineSu-34Su-27Russian Air ForceWar In UkraineMilitary

Russia's Su-34 Fullback Fighter-Bomber Looks Like a Failure

The Russian Aerospace Forces have experienced significant losses, with ten combat aircraft downed in ten days, including eight Su-34 fighter bombers.

Summary: The Russian Aerospace Forces have experienced significant losses, with ten combat aircraft downed in ten days, including eight Su-34 fighter bombers. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk confirmed these incidents through social media, highlighting the ongoing effectiveness of Ukrainian defenses. Alongside the Su-34s, Russia also lost two Su-35 multi-role fighters and an A-50 reconnaissance aircraft. Since February 24, 2022, Ukraine claims to have destroyed 339 Russian fixed-wing aircraft and 325 helicopters. The Su-34, a key asset in Russia's aerial warfare strategy, is a supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber developed from the Soviet-era Su-27.

The Su-34 Fullback: A Closer Look at Russia's Ill-Fated Fighter Bomber

Another Su-34 Has Been Shot Down in Ukraine - The Russian Aerospace Forces have lost at least ten combat aircraft in as many days, including eight Su-34 fighter bombers with one destroyed last Friday and another downed on Monday.

"Oops, we did it again! Another russian Su-34 fighter-bomber was destroyed by Ukrainian warriors in the eastern direction.  And now it's 10 destroyed russian planes in 10 days!," the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense announced on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

"Minus another Su-34 in the eastern direction! Yesterday, Russian pilots managed to dodge our missiles, but this will not always be the case! I advise the invaders to see their relatives before each flight. Because who knows if he'll be lucky or not this time," Ukrainian Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk also reported in a post on the social messaging app Telegram.

In addition to the Su-34s that were shot down, the Kremlin's forces reportedly also lost two Su-35 multi-role fighters and an A-50 reconnaissance aircraft. According to Ukraine's General Staff, from Feb. 24, 2022, to Feb. 21, 2024, Ukrainian forces had destroyed 339 fixed-wing aircraft and 325 helicopters belonging to the Russians – and those numbers have only increased in the week since.

Russia's Sukhoi Su-34 in the Crosshairs

The Sukhoi Su-34 (NATO reporting name "Fullback") multirole strike aircraft is a twin-engine, twin-seat, all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber, initially developed for the Soviet Air Forces in the 1980s. It was one of the Kremlin's many programs that were forced on the backburner following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the economic crisis that followed.

The program was only revived in earnest in the early 2000s, with eight pre-production aircraft built for trials and evaluations.

The Su-34 formally entered service in 2014 – although there are reports that it was employed during the Russo-Georgia War of 2008. Approximately 155 have been manufactured, including the prototypes and serial-produced aircraft. Originally designated the Su-27IB, it was based on the Sukhoi Su-27 (NATO reporting name "Flanker"), and was developed primarily for a strike/attack role to replace the Su-24 (NATO reporting name "Fencer") attack fighter and Tupolev Tu-22 (NATO reporting name "Blinder") bomber with a single platform.

The Su-34's surface design includes a duckbill-shaped nose cone, two tail fins broadly reminiscent of the Su-27, canards to assist with maneuverability, and a side-by-side cockpit that can potentially facilitate improved communication between the two pilots.

The aircraft is powered by a pair of Saturn AL-31FM1 turbofan engines, the same engines used on the Su-27SM, giving the aircraft a maximum speed of Mach 1.8+ when fully loaded. When equipped with a full weapons load, the Su-34 has a maximum range of 4,000 km (2,500 mi; 2,200 nmi), or further with aerial refueling. It is further equipped with counter-fire and electronic warfare (EW) counter-measures systems.

The fighter-bomber features a modern glass cockpit, with color multi-function displays, while its nose section accommodates a suite of advanced multi-mode phased array radar, capable of terrain following. The cockpit and some other crucial components and systems are reported to be armored, and the Su-34 is fitted with comprehensive electronic countermeasures equipment. The Su-34 further has a rearward facing radar and can launch air-to-air missiles at pursuing enemy aircraft.

The Su-34 typically carries 4,000 kg of weapons, while the maximum capacity is 8,000 kg. Its primary air-to-air weapon is the R-77 (AA-12) missile, with two R-73 (AA-11 or Archer) short-range air-to-air missiles carried on wingtip rails. For ground and naval strike roles, the Russian fighter-bomber can be armed with long-range standoff weapons, including the Kh-55, Kh-59, Kh-59M, Kh-25, Kh-29 air-to-surface missiles, Kh-31, Kh-35, Kh-41 Moskit, and P-800 Oniks anti-ship missiles, and Kh-58 anti-radiation missiles.


It is also armed with a 30 mm GSh-301 cannon with 180 rounds, and the aircraft is equipped with 10 underwing and under-fuselage hardpoints for a wide range of weapons, including air-to-air, air-to-surface, anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles, guided or free-fall bombs.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].