Designed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau, the Su-34s will replace the Su-24 Fencer frontline bombers. Experts said the new bomber has the potential to become the best plane in its class for years to come.
"The schedule for re-equipment of air regiments [in the Russian Air Force] with new and modernized aircraft has been determined," Major General Alexander Belevitch said. "Two of our air regiments will be re-armed soon."
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.
The first serial-production Su-34 has been procured by the Defense Ministry and will soon be deployed at the Lipetsk pilot training center for practical training of military pilots.
General Belevitch said the 16th Air Army would also receive MiG-29SM Fulcrum fighters to replace outdated MiG-29s and modernized Su-25 Frogfoot close support aircraft, which showed outstanding performance during operations in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other "hot spots."
The 16th Air Army, headquartered at Kubinka, is essentially a tactical air force component of the Moscow Military District, with zone of responsibility of up to 1.3 million square kilometers, including the country's capital, Moscow.