Russia launches full-scale production of new-generation warplane - January, 2008

Russia launches full-scale production of new-generation warplane

Sukhoi SU-32 (SU-34) Fullback fighter-bomber (video):
Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback Russia's New Heavy Strike Fighter:

January, 2008

Russia has started full-scale production of the Su-34 Fullback fighter bomber at a Siberian aircraft plant, plane maker Sukhoi said on Wednesday. A company spokesman said up to 20 fighters could now be assembled simultaneously at the Novosibirsk Aviation Production Association (NAPO), but did not specify how many would be built each year. The $36 million Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat strike aircraft equipped with twin AL-31MF afterburning turbojet engines. It is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily-defended targets under any weather conditions, day or night, and fields weaponry that includes a 30mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs. Designed by Sukhoi, the Su-34s will replace the Su-24 Fencer frontline bombers. Experts said the new bomber has the potential to become the top plane in its class for years to come. To date only a handful of pre-production models have been built. In mid-2004 Sukhoi announced that low-rate production was commencing and that initial aircraft would reach squadron service around 2008. In March 2006, Russia's then Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced that the government had purchased only two Su-34s for delivery in 2006, and planned to have a complete air regiment of 24 Su-34s operational by the end of 2010. A total of 58 aircraft will be purchased by 2015 to replace some of 300 Su-24s, which are undergoing modernization to prolong their service life.


Russia to Begin Receiving SU-32/34 Long-Range Strike Fighters

Russia's SU-27 Flanker design has become one of its great export successes. It is also a design success, with a basic airframe whose characteristics absorbed lessons from all of America's "teen series fighters" to produce a 4+ generation aircraft that remains the yardstick by which others still measure themselves. Growth capacity has allowed further refinements and modifications, from the SU-30/35 upgrades to versions that add canard foreplanes (SU-30MKI/M, SU-37), and even carrier-launched capability (SU-33). Then there's the SU-32/34 "Fullback," It was envisaged as the successor to the F-111 like SU-24 "Fencer," which remains in service and was very highly regarded in Chechnya as a battlefield support aircraft. The SU-34's design has evolved since its initial drafts in 1986, most visibly so in the present side-by-side xxxxpit configuration that includes features like an aisle to rest in and even a toilet of sorts. A Sept 1/06 RIA Novosti report includes a number of details, and despite its clear "home team cheerleader" style there are a number of useful tidbits in the profile.

Recent events may make that profile timely again, as production appears set to begin in earnest. Their rise to regular production would end a journey that began with the aircraft's maiden flight in 1990 as the T10V/SU-27IB. In December 2006, Sukhoi announced a target of 18 SU-34s produced by 2010, and in March 2006 defense minister Sergei Ivanov placed the longer-term schedule at 58 aircraft purchased by 2015. Eventual demand levels of up to 200 aircraft have been floated, in order to replace Russia's 300 existing SU-24s. The determining factor is likely to be the SU-34's prioritization amidst Russia's rearmament program, which is being fueled by its hydrocarbon exports and distribution hammerlocks amidst a global scenario of rising demand and rising prices. RIA Novosti put the plane's mission simply: "The Su-34 is meant to deliver a sufficiently large ordnance load to a predetermined area, hit the target accurately and take evasive action against pursuing enemy planes." Other reports have gone further, stating that the plane is also meant to be able to handle enemy fighters in combat is required. Given its base platform characteristics, it would likely match up well against many of America's "teen series" aircraft. The SU-34 is also referred to as the "SU-32" by Sukhoi, and its characteristics reportedly include:

* 45.1 tonne maximum takeoff weight.

* 8 tonne ordnance load. Air Force Technology adds that this is distributed on 10 hardpoints, which can accomodate precision-guided weapons as well as R-73/AA-11 Archer and R-77/AA-12 'AMRAAMSKI' missiles. The aircraft is also armed with a 30mm GSh-301 gun and 180 rounds.

* AL-31FM1 engines built by the Moscow-based Salyut Company generate a thrust of up to 13.5 metric tons (over 29,000 pounds) and have a 1,000-hour service life in between repairs. Subsequent reports indictae that more powerful AL-41 engines may be fitted in future.

* Maximum speed Mach 1.8 at altitude.

* 3,000 km range with standard drop tanks, extendable to over 4,000 km with the help of additional drop tanks. This makes deployment to locations like Tajikistan much easier, because intermediate airfields in Russia can easily be closed by bad weather. The SU-34 can also refuel in mid-air. (Note, however, that typical "ground hugging" attack flight profiles will shorten their range considerably – Air Force Technology lists it as around 600 km on internal fuel, or 1,150 km with external fuel tanks.)

* Can fly in TERCOM (Terrain Contour Matching) mode for low-level flight, and relies on software to execute a number of other difficult maneuvers. The front horizontal empennage behind the xxxxpit is designed to help it handle the air pockets found in high speed flight at low altitudes.

* A 17mm armored cockpit like the SU-25 Frogfoot ground-attack jet.

* 2 parallel K-36DM ejector seats, with a small aisle in between. The ejector seats can be activated at any speed and altitude, even when the plane is on the ground.

Other reports add additional details, and can be found in the "Additional Readings" section below. One particular item of note is the Leninets B004 phased array multimode X-band radar, which interleaves terrain-following radar and other modes. The US B-1B's stealth bomber's AN/APQ-164 phased array uses a similar approach. Performance is claimed to be of 200-250 km against large surface targets, ground mapping capability of 75-150 km, and GMTI moving target tracking to 30 km. Detection performance against fighter sized aerial targets is claimed to be 90 km. A jamming variant of the SU-32/34 has reportedly been discussed in the Indian and Russian trade press, with an L175V / KS418 high power jamming pod that is supposedly under development.


In related news:

Russian Su-33 warplanes exercise in Mediterranean

Russian Navy carrier Su-33 aircraft and combat helicopters have launched a training exercise over the Mediterranean, an aide to the Russian Navy commander said on Tuesday. Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said a Joint Naval Task Force, comprised of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class Large Anti-submarine Ship Admiral Levchenko, the Sergei Osipov auxiliary vessel, and other vessels continued to perform a variety of missions in the central part of the Mediterranean Sea. The Admiral Kuznetsov's main fixed-wing aircraft is the multirole Su-33 (NATO reporting name 'Flanker-D'), which can perform air superiority, fleet defense, and air support missions and can also be used for reconnaissance and the searching for naval mines. The two-month expedition, which started on December 5, is aimed at ensuring a naval presence "in the operationally key areas of the world oceans" and establishing conditions for secure Russian maritime navigation. Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said previously that a total of four warships and seven other vessels of Russia's Northern, Black Sea and Baltic Fleets, as well as 47 airplanes and 10 helicopters, would take part in the 12,000-mile expedition. In mid-August, Putin announced the resumption of strategic patrol flights, saying that although the country halted long-distance strategic flights to remote regions in 1992 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ensuing economic and political chaos, other nations had continued the practice, compromising Russian national security.


New serial Tu-160 Blackjack bomber undergoes flight test

A new serial strategic Tu-160 Blackjack bomber has undergone a flight test at an aviation production association in Kazan on the Volga, a deputy director of the Tupolev aircraft maker said Thursday. "The first flight of a regular [new] serial plane Tu-160 took place December 28, 2007 at the Gorbunov Kazan aviation production association," Alexander Zatochny said. He said after all the flight tests had been completed, the aircraft would be adopted by the Air Force. The Tu-160 supersonic heavy bomber with variable geometry wings has been serially produced since 1984 and was adopted by the Air Force in 1987. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, only one such plane was built, which was adopted in 2000. The Tu-160 has a maximum takeoff weight of 275 tons, a maximum flight speed of over 2,000 kmph, and a range of over 13,000 km. It is armed with long-range cruise missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.


Russia to have 50 silo-based Topol-M ICBM systems by end of 2008

Russia will fully equip a fifth strategic missile regiment with new silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2008, a spokesman for the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) said on Thursday. At present, Russia operates 48 Topol-M systems (NATO reporting name SS-27) and will deploy another two with a missile regiment in the Saratov Region in southern Russia this year, bringing the total number to 50. "Rearmament of the Tatishchevo missile regiment with two silo-based Topol-M systems will be completed in 2008," Colonel Alexander Vovk said, adding that each regiment has 10 missile complexes. The missile, with a range of about 7,000 miles (11,000 kms), is said to be immune to any current and future U.S. ABM defense. It is capable of making evasive maneuvers to avoid a kill by the use of terminal phase interceptors, and carries targeting countermeasures and decoys. It is also shielded against radiation, electromagnetic pulse, nuclear blasts at distances more than 500 meters (1,650 feet) away, and is designed to survive a hit from any form of laser technology. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, SMF commander, earlier said that Topol-M systems would be equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) in the next two or three years.


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The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

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