Russia has started this year the full-scale production of the Su-34 Fullback fighter bomber at a Novosibirsk-based aircraft-manufacturing plant, a subsidiary of the Sukhoi Aircraft Holding.
"In 2008, our plant will increase its production capacity by 15-20% and will manufacture at least five Su-34 aircraft, while modernizing 20 Su-24 Fencer planes," said Alexander Kalashnikov, deputy general director of the Novosibirsk plant.
Experts said the new bomber has the potential to become the top plane in its class for many years to come. A total of 70 aircraft will be purchased by 2015 to replace around 300 Su-24s, which are currently undergoing modernization to prolong their service life.
The first two serial-production Su-34s were procured by the Defense Ministry in 2007 and have been deployed at the Lipetsk pilot training center for the practical training of military pilots.
Designed by Sukhoi, the $36 million Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat strike aircraft fitted with twin AL-31MF afterburner turbojet engines. It is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily-defended targets under any weather conditions, day or night, and is equipped with a 30-mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs.