Russia’s Sukhoi Su-34 Fighter-bomber Make First-Ever Nighttime Flight Into Stratosphere

Russia's Sukhoi Su-34 Fighter-bomber Make First-Ever Nighttime Flight Into Stratosphere
Су-34 (Su-34) – Credits: Vitaly V. Kuzmin

According to Russian new agency TASS, Russian fighter-bomber aircraft Su-34 carried out a night-time combat exercise reaching to the heights of 15 kilometers at lower stratospheric level, engaging a ‘hypothetical enemy’ at supersonic speed.

The fighter-bombers were from an aviation division of the Central Military District in the Chelyabinsk region. Reportedly, the planes are highly capable and are considered 4++ generation multirole fighters- and this was their first time carrying out drills at such an altitude.

“During the training flights, Sukhoi Su-34 crews carried out climbs to altitudes of about 15 kilometers, into the lower stratosphere. Upon achieving supersonic speeds, they practised interception and elimination of a hypothetical enemy. The crew operated totally on their own, without contacting air defence stations on the ground, which made the task more complex,” the press release read.

According to reports, an air regiment of the Central Military District completed an overhaul program to procure these upgraded Su-34s, of which the last three were deployed to the Chelyabinsk region, completing the formation of the second squadron of Su-34s.

Such exercises performed at such height are considered vital and following the Soviet doctrine of supersonic high-altitude fighter-interceptors, the legacy of which is the MiG-25 Foxbat and MiG-31 Foxhound planes.

The Sukhoi Su-34 (NATO’s reporting name Fullback) is a two-seat all-weather frontline bomber, converted from the frontline fighter jet Sukhoi Su-27. It was developed at the Sukhoi Design Bureau under chief designer Rollan Martirosov.

The plane’s main task is to destroy ground, surface and air targets and air defense-protected infrastructures located away from the airbase. It is capable of effectively delivering strikes amid enemy resistance round the clock in good and bad weather with a variety of weapons, and of conducting air reconnaissance. The plane’s combat features enable it to enter into highly maneuverable duels with enemy fighter jets and cope with combat missions independently without escort fighters.

The Sukhoi Su-34 performed its first flight on April 13, 1990. It was authorized for service on March 20, 2014. The maximum speed near the surface is 1,400 kilometers per hour, and at high altitudes, 1,900 kilometers per hour; range of flight – 4,500 kilometers without refueling and 7,000 kilometers with midair refueling; and altitude – 14,650 meters.

Weaponry: 30 mm gun GSh-30-1 and 12 weapon stations for air-to-air or air-to-surface missiles of different types, unguided rockets and aerial bombs.

Since September 30, 2015, Sukhoi Su-34 jets have participated in combat operations in Syria as part of Russia’s Aerospace Force Group. The fighter-bombers successfully attacked militants’ infrastructures and manpower. Some flew sorties from the Khmeimim air base in Syria and others from the Hamadan airbase in Iran.

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