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Wed, Mar 22, 2006

Russian Air Force To Get New Bombers

Two-Seat Su-34s To Be Online By 2010

The head of the Russian Air Force said Tuesday that by 2010, a regiment of new Su-34 fighter-bombers will be added to the country's armed forces.

"Under a three-year state contract, the Chkalov Aircraft Production Association [in Novosibirsk]... will manufacture and deliver a regiment of Su-34 [NATO designation Fullback] fighter-bombers to the Russian Air Force," Air Force Commander Vladimir Mikhailov said, according to Russia's RIA Novosti.

The bombers will replace Russia's current frontline bomber, the outdated Su-24 "Fencer". Sources quoted by the Russian news service puts the number of aircraft ordered at between 25 and 30.

According to the nonprofit defense analyis group, the Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat, side-by-side strike fighter/bomber that features a flattened, sharp-edged nose similar to the SR-71. The aircraft, which first flew in 1990, is fitted with vectored-thrust engines that allows either a 10-15 percent reduction in takeoff distance, or a similar increase in maximum take-off weight.

RIA Novosti states the Su-34 is fitted with a 30 mm cannon, and up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, or bombs.

"[The plane's] variable payload makes the Su-34 a unique aircraft capable of destroying almost any target," Mikhailov said. "Test flights of Su-34 fighter-bombers started at the beginning of 2006. We have about 10 [Su-34s] in the Air Force at present."



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