MilitaryRussian Su-34MR reconnaissance version detects Ukrainian targets in near real-time

Russian Su-34MR reconnaissance version detects Ukrainian targets in near real-time

On 7th July, the Russian Air Force received the first batch of new Su-34M strike fighters. The order was placed in the last week of 2020. With 76 new aircraft, the total number of Su-34s in the Russian fleet will increase to almost 200 units, since by the end of 2021, there were already 124 Su-34s in service, with at least two losses in the battle over Ukraine.

Russian forces have begun to use a new reconnaissance system on the Su-34M bomber. According to RIA Novosti, referring to an informed source, this system allows the Russians to accurately determine the coordinates and other parameters of targets, for example, the positions of air defense systems and Ukrainian radar stations. Su-34MR is expected to replace Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft.

“The Russian Aerospace Forces have begun using new reconnaissance systems based on Su-34 front-line bombers,” the agency’s interlocutor confirmed.

According to the source, the system transmits data on military infrastructure facilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to ground forces and firepower through automatic communication channels in near real-time.

The system’s recognition speed has been increased with the help of a unique bundle of three reconnaissance pods: optoelectronic, radar and radio intelligence. SU-34 MR uses surveillance radars, data from external radars and target designation in a broad frequency range to establish the target location. After the direction is found, the geographical coordinates of the locators are determined.

It means, the plane is flying at about 900 kms per hour, detects and transmits the data is near real time (even if the enemy is moving), for Kalbirs or Iskanders or Kinzals to fly in minutes and destroy it.

The universal reconnaissance pods were created by the Kulon Research Institute, which is part of the Ruselectronics holding, as part of the ‘Sych’ development work, which involves expanding the combat capabilities of the Su-34.

The newer Su-34 modification helps as the enemy constantly moves and does not stand still. The aircraft’s previous versions were deployed in Syria, and an even more sophisticated version is already in use.

The upgraded Su-34M bombers entered the service in 2021. The Su-34M received updated avionics, high-precision weapons and a set of several reconnaissance containers as part of the Sych development program completed in 2019. In addition, the upgraded Su-34M recon aircraft can be used to perform ground attack roles even in the recon mode. The Russian officials have previously said that by 2027 the Aerospace force plans to induct 76 modernized Su-34Ms of the new build. In addition, it has plans to upgrade the entire fleet of Su-34s in service to the level of Su-34M.

Su-34M strike fighters include specialized versions for electronic attack and reconnaissance

The Su-34 is a Russian multifunctional fighter-bomber designed to deliver air strikes against enemy ground targets in operational and tactical depth against heavily guarded targets. It can perform missions without escort fighter cover. The Su-34 is ideal for recon as it can carry heavy loads, up to 8 tons, on 12 external hardpoints. It was built to take off with heavy nuclear bombs of the first generation. With the multi-role application, the aircraft can fire long-range air-to-surface and air-to-air guided weapons. It is equipped with a highly intelligent system of radar countermeasures and defense. It has a flight range of up to 4,000 km with a maximum speed of up to 1,900 km / h or 1.9 Mach.

On 7th July, the Russian Air Force received the first batch of new Su-34M strike fighters. The order was placed in the last week of 2020. With 76 new aircraft, the total number of Su-34s in the Russian fleet will increase to almost 200 units, since by the end of 2021, there were already 124 Su-34s in service, with at least two losses in the battle over Ukraine.

The Su-34 has become the Russian Ministry of Defense’s favoured fighter since it entered service. They outnumber all other aircraft types, including the Su-30 and Su-35. This is largely due to the unique capabilities of the platform, which allow it to replace the ageing fleet of several hundred Su-24M strike fighters and several Tu-22M bombers. Despite its modest size, the new platform has a comparable flight range to the Tu-22s. The plane has a toilet for the pilots. The Su-34, like most modern Russian fighters, is a derivative of the Su-27. It has absorbed the most changes from the original aircraft and was made suitable for a different role. An aircraft designed for air superiority was converted for long-range bombing, suppression air defense, cruise missile strikes and anti-ship sorties.

According to Yury Slyusar, Director General of the Russian United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the Su-34M has twice the combat power of the original Su-34, plus a dedicated interface for three different types of sensors to provide maximum situational awareness: the UKR-RT, UKR -OE and UKR-RL. Air combat capabilities have also improved, potentially making it easier to integrate new weapons – including K-77M missiles from the Su-57 fighter.

Reconnaissance Pods

In November 2011, it was reported that the Orenburg based JSC PO Strela received an order from the Sukhoi company to manufacture universal reconnaissance containers (UKR) Sych for the Su-34 front-line bomber. In the first stage, it was planned to release eight containers of three modifications: two – radio engineering, three – radar, and three – optoelectronic. 

In mid-2016, competent sources at JSC Research Institute Kulon’s headquarters announced the beginning of a container system’s large-scale production. It had X-band radar for surface surveillance, two-way low-element radar with a resolution of about 0.3 m in the SAR / ISAR mode and an instrumental range of more than 300 km (UKR-RL / BKR-3 ) for equipping of front-line Su-34 bombers.

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