Sukhoi Su-34 (Fullback) Fighter-Bomber / Long Range Strike Fighter Aircraft
The Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback is a two-seat, dedicated fighter-bomber version of the successful Su-27 Flanker fighter series.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Sukhoi Su-34 (NATO reporting name of "Fullback") is a dedicated Fourth Generation two-seat fighter-bomber/strike fighter platform based on the successful Su-27 "Flanker" air superiority fighter series for the Russian Air Force. The Flanker family of aircraft was born out of the Sukhoi Design Bureau in the 1970s and entered service in December of 1984, having since spawned into a handful of capable combat-minded roles including the Su-33 ("Flanker-D") navalized multi-role variant and the Su-35 long-range, air superiority/strike series ("Flanker-E"). While being largely based on the preceding Su-27 design (exported worldwide as the "Su-30") and incorporating some of its key qualities, the Su-34 is regarded as an all-new, independent aircraft design as it is heavily modified and intended for the strike role as primary with air superiority being a secondary quality of the design.
The Su-34 began life under the Sukhoi "T-10V" product designation, an initiative brought about by a 1980s Soviet Air Force requirement for a new, long endurance, high-speed tactical bomber intended to supersede the outgoing Sukhoi Su-24 "Fencer" series in the same role. The Sukhoi concern looked to its new Su-27 airframe as a possible starting point, the aircraft now beginning to take hold in useful numbers across the Soviet air inventory. The airframe was a excellent commodity and flexible enough to modify for the requirement, as proven through the promising - though ultimately abandoned - twin-seat T-10KM-2 navalized training aircraft once intended for the Soviet Navy. Sukhoi engineers felt comfortable with retaining much of the Su-27 arrangement with only a new forward fuselage added to the mix. As the Su-27 family of aircraft relied on a single-seat configuration, the fuselage was allowed a nice cylindrical design shape. However, for the new fighter-bomber endeavor, this would be modified through a new approach in which two pilots - seated side-by-side - would be added to a widened cockpit. To this, engineers then installed forward wing canards ahead of the main wing elements intended to improved stability and increase maneuverability. The Su-27's Lyulka series turbofan engines were uprated for greater power in the new Sukhoi initiative. The ultimate goal for the program was to develop a competent strike platform while retaining the excellent fighter qualities (handling and performance) of the Su-27 family. The Sukhoi program ultimately yielded the first T-10V-1 prototype form (born from an existing Su-27UB) which went airborne for the first time on April 13th, 1990. The T-10V designator was then dropped in favor of "Su-27IB" to indicate the type's new fighter-bomber role ("Istrebeetel'-bombardirovschchik"). The Su-27IB was first formally unveiled in 1992 and a second prototype followed, taking to the air on December 18th, 1993. By this time, the series was assigned the officially Russian Air Force designation of "Su-34" and further codenamed "Fullback" by NATO.