TechRussian Su-34 aircraft falls prey to technical difficulties: a major blow to military arsenal

Russian Su‑34 aircraft falls prey to technical difficulties: a major blow to military arsenal

Damaged Russian Su-34 transported to the repair shop.
Damaged Russian Su-34 transported to the repair shop.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | The Military Watch

1:53 PM EST, February 12, 2024

An intriguing video has surfaced online, portraying a Russian transportation of a wingless Su-34 strike aircraft. It was spotted moving along a highway heading towards Voronezh, where a well-known Russian repair yard is located.

Despite the Russians partially masking the aircraft's side number, OSINT analysts were successful in identifying this aircraft as RED 17, which had performed an emergency landing without its rear landing gear roughly two weeks before. Although there's a claim by the Russians that this plane can be repaired, contradicted voices deem this Su-34 a total loss, suitable only for cannibalization.

Cannibalization involves using operational or damaged machines as a source of spare parts for other aircraft in times of challenges with the supply of necessary components from the manufacturer.

Su-34: one of Russia's best and quite a rare tactical bomber

The Su-34, also referred to as Fullback by NATO, is an advanced version of the Su-27 model. It was specifically developed to carry out strikes on land targets and to replace the older Su-24 models previously used in Russian aviation.

What makes this aircraft distinctive is its innovative construction. Unlike the typical tandem configuration where pilots sit one above the other, the Su-34 has a side-by-side seating arrangement. Russian engineers believe this configuration contributes to better collaboration between pilots. Despite this feature, the Su-34 is essentially a bigger version of the Su-27, enhanced with a duck tailplane and more resistance to anti-aircraft artillery.

The pilots' cabin is further fortified with titanium, which is aimed at keeping them safe from gunfire from barrel anti-aircraft defense systems such as the Gepard, or from shrapnel generated by the explosion of nearby guided missiles launched by other aircraft or ground anti-aircraft systems.

As a front-line bomber, the Su-34 can transport up to 8.8 tons of payload on 12 pylons. It is outfitted with simple S-8 unguided rocket launchers, Kh-25 missiles, and KAB family bombs that can weigh up to 1.65 tons, and Raduga Kh-59 missiles capable of exceeding a range of 125 miles. The aircraft also hosts a 30 mm caliber GSz-30-1 gun.

Based on figures from the onset of the war, Russia owned just over 130 of these aircraft. According to information released by RIA Novosti in 2008, adjusted for inflation, one unit is estimated to cost about 47 million dollars. Losing such high-priced machines constitutes a significant loss for Russia, with the confirmed loss thus far being at least 24 of these aircraft.

Related content