Russian Su-34 Fighter Jet Could Become World‘s First to Carry Strategic Missiles
In a recent development reported by Russian media, it has been revealed that the modification work to enable the Su-34 fighter-bomber to carry long-range cruise missiles has been completed. While the specific model of the missile has not been disclosed, experts believe it is likely to be a strategic missile. As a result, the Su-34 has become the world‘s first fighter-bomber capable of carrying strategic missiles.
The Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat, twin-engine, supersonic aircraft with the ability to perform ground, sea, and air combat missions. Military observer Shao Yongling highlights that before the modification, the Su-34 had not been frequently used due to its limited capabilities. The modification allows the Su-34 to enhance its long-range strike capabilities.
With a bomb load of 8 tons and a fuel load of 12 tons, the Su-34 has a combat radius of up to 1,100 kilometers and a range of about 4,000 kilometers. It is equipped with protective armor to defend against ground fire strikes, earning it the nickname “flying tank” due to its maximum take-off weight of 45 tons. Despite its impressive features, the Su-34 has been overshadowed by the widespread use of multi-purpose fighters like the Su-30 for ground attack missions.
Until now, Russia’s fighter aircraft capable of carrying long-range cruise missiles were limited to strategic bombers like the Tu-95, Tu-160, and the Tu-22M. However, with the modification enabling the Su-34 to carry long-range cruise missiles, Russia is enhancing its long-range strike capabilities and achieving more ideal damage effects.
Shao Yongling suggests that the Su-34 may be equipped with long-range cruise missiles carried by strategic bombers such as Kh-101 and Kh-555. This combination provides Russia with greater flexibility and a means to confuse enemy air defense systems. Unlike strategic bombers, the modified Su-34 is difficult to distinguish when carrying long-range cruise missiles or ordinary bombs, making it harder for detection.
This development aligns with Russia’s recent moves in using and deploying long-range weapons. It has deployed 46 sets of “Iskander” missile systems in the Russia-Ukraine border area, and allowed the Su-34 to carry the “Dagger” supersonic missiles. Military observer Shao Yongling believes that Russia aims to increase pressure on Ukraine’s air defense system and prepare for a winter offensive.
Russia’s long-range strikes since last October have caused power and heating outages in Ukraine, exacerbating the difficulties faced by Ukrainian society. With the frontline in a state of relative stalemate, Russia may intensify its attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure in the coming months to influence decision-making and force negotiations with Ukraine.
The modification of the Su-34 fighter jet and Russia’s strategic moves in the region indicate a potential escalation of tensions in the coming months. As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how Ukraine and the international community will respond to Russia’s actions.
(CCTV Military Channel Reporter: Song Bo)