The Sukhoi Su-34 (NATO designation Fullback) was developed primarily for the strike/attack role to replace the Su-24 Fencer. It is a derivative of the Su-27 Flanker, easily distinguished by it's side-by-side cockpit and 'platypus' nose. It is also being proposed for the Russian air force to serve in the heavy interceptor, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and defense suppression roles.
First flown in 1990, this aircraft was originally designated the Su-27IB. In 1995 a pre-production aircraft, designated as the Su-32, was revealed. Development was slow due to limited funding. Until 2004 a total of 8 pre-production aircraft were built for trials and evaluation. Recently Russian Air Force has adopted the Su-34 designation. To date only two Fullbacks were delivered to Russian Air Force and 22 more are planned to enter service with bomber squadrons until 2010. It was stated that total Russia's requirement is for 200 interdictors of new type. Upgrade programmes continue for surviving Russian Su-24s to extend their service lives. The Su-34 is also proposed for export customers, however it received no orders to date.
The Su-34 Fullback design retains the Su-27s basic layout, construction of the airframe, engines, most of it's wing structure, tail and substantial part of onboard equipment. It also uses canards of the Su-30 for improved maneuverability. Aircraft has entirely new nose and forward fuselage with cockpit. The advantage of a side-by-side cockpit is that duplicate instruments are not required for each pilot. It is also more comfortable on longer missions. The Su-34 has a modern glass cockpit, with color multi-function displays. Nose section of the Fullback accommodates advanced multi-mode phased array radar, capable of terrain following. Cockpit and some other crucial components and systems are armored. Aircraft is fitted with comprehensive electronic counter measures equipment.
This interdictor is armed with a 30-mm GSh-301 cannon with 180 rounds. Aircraft has 10 underwing and underfusealage 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. The Su-34 normally carries 4 000 kg of weapons, however maximum capacity is 8 000 kg. Primary air-to-air weapon is the R-77 (AA-12) missile. Two R-73 (AA-11 Archer) short-range air-to-air missiles are typically carried on wingtip rails. The Su-34 has a rearward facing radar and can launch air-to-air missiles at pursuing enemy aircraft.
For strike roles emphasis is placed on long-range standoff weapons, such as Kh-55 (AS-15 Kent), Kh-59 (AS-13 Kingbolt) cruise missiles, Kh-25 (AS-10 Kerry), Kh-29 (AS-14 Kedge) air-to-surface missiles, Kh-31 (AS-17 Krypton), Kh-35 (AS-20 Kayak) and Kh-41 Moskit, Yakhont anti-ship missiles, and Kh-58 (AS-11 Kilter) anti-radiation missiles.
Guided bombs include the KAB-500 and KAB-1500. Aircraft can also carry electronic warfare or reconnaissance pods. Capacity of internal fuel has been increased and three external fuel tanks can be carried. Aircraft also has in-flight refueling capability, that allows missions of up to 10 hours duration.