TechUkraine downs 10 Russian Su-34s, but Moscow's fleet remains strong

Ukraine downs 10 Russian Su‑34s, but Moscow's fleet remains strong

Su-34, illustrative photo
Su-34, illustrative photo
Images source: © Getty Images | Artyom_Anikeev
11:07 AM EDT, March 15, 2024

Ukrainian aviation expert Valeriy Romanenko recently shared insights on the state of Russian aviation. Despite losing dozens of aircraft over several weeks, these losses may not significantly impact their operations, with a focus on the Su-34s. In February, Ukraine downed 10 of these aircraft, an unprecedented achievement, yet Romanenko suggests such results are more exceptions than the norm. The Su-34 tactical bombers are considered crucial to Russian aviation, and despite heavy losses, Moscow continues to replenish its fleet.

In the span from February to March, Russia lost 13 Su-34 aircraft, totaling about 30 losses. Production rates in 2022 were 10 units, with an additional 6 to 8 produced in 2023. Thus, according to Romanenko, Russia hasn't faced significant setbacks. At the start of the full-scale invasion, Russia boasted about 140 Su-34 units. With the ongoing production, Russians maintain a robust fleet, contrasting the West's outlook with less optimism. However, Romanenko notes that a more significant loss for Russia could be the destruction of an A-50 long-range early warning aircraft, of which only a few remain.

How many Su-34s does Russia have left?

Between February and March, the enemy lost 13 Su-34 aircraft, with their total losses reaching about 30 aircraft. Their production in 2022 totaled 10 units and in 2023, 6 to 8 units have been manufactured. Russia, therefore, has not suffered significant aircraft losses."

At the outset of the invasion, Russia possessed approximately 140 Su-34 units. With the addition of newly built aircraft, the Russian air force remains strong, according to Romanenko. This situation is viewed with concern from a Western perspective. A more severe blow to Russian capabilities would be the loss of its scarce A-50 aircraft.

Key features of the Su-34

The Su-34, a tactical bomber sometimes classified as a fighter bomber, was developed in the 1990s as a successor to the Su-24. It spans over 75 feet in length and, with two AL-31F M1 engines, can reach speeds of up to 1,180 mph. This aircraft has a maximum range of about 2,485 miles and can ascend to 55,775 feet.

Its primary weapon is a GSz-30-1 autocannon with a 30 mm calibre, but it can also carry up to 8 tons of additional armament across 12 hardpoints. This capability poses a substantial threat to Ukrainians, as guided aerial bombs dropped from the Su-34, weighing up to 3,307 pounds, cause significant damage. Smaller bombs, commonly used by Russians, weigh about 1,102 pounds but are still devastating.

Romanenko also shed light on the recent crash of a Russian military transport aircraft Il-76 near Ivanovo, noting such aircraft frequently use older engines that have undergone major repairs.

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