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    Introduction of Su-34 will create export potential - official

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    The introduction of Russia's latest fighter-bomber into active service with the country's air force will make the plane more attractive on global export markets, the head of the corporation producing the aircraft said Thursday.

    NOVOSIBIRSK, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - The introduction of Russia's latest fighter-bomber into active service with the country's air force will make the plane more attractive on global export markets, the head of the corporation producing the aircraft said Thursday.

    "Widespread use of the Su-34 following its purchase by the Russian Air Force will boost sales on external arms markets," Sukhoi holding Director General Mikhail Pogosyan said.

    Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov earlier said his ministry planned to purchase 18 Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers in 2006-2008, and equip an air force regiment with 24 of the new aircraft by 2010.

    Pogosyan also said the introduction of the Su-34 would play an important part in the future of the Chkalov Aircraft Production Association in Novosibirsk, West Siberia, where the new plane is being manufactured.

    "Annual production of 15-20 Su-34 will see the enterprise working at optimal capacity," he said, adding that production could ensure stable sales and lower the plane's production costs.

    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 at heavily guarded targets in any weather conditions, day or night, and fields weaponry including a 30mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs.

    It is designed to replace the Su-24 Fencer frontline bombers in the Air Force.

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