Sukhoi warplanes used by Russia in Syria anti-terror op (PHOTOS)
Sukhoi Su-34 (Fullback)
The Su-34 is a strike fighter and the most modern aircraft to take part in Russia’s operation against Islamic State in Syria.
Its development began in the mid-’80s as a replacement for the Su-24, with the country’s military receiving the first batch of new warplanes in 2006.
The jet is designed for the supersonic penetration of enemy airspace at treetop level in the most severe weather and battle conditions.
The two-pilot strike fighter is sometimes referred to as ‘a flying tank’ due to an armored cockpit and efficient standoff weapons, which enable it to survive not only missile fragments, but even direct hits from small caliber arms.
Sukhoi Su-24M (Fencer)
The Su-24 is a tactical bomber meant to fly below the radar and hit ground targets from low altitudes. The military wanted the plane to have short take-off and landing capabilities to so that it could be used on small airfields.
An early prototype had four turbojet engines that complemented two main engines during take-off. The scheme, however, proved to be very inefficient, so instead designers gave it variable-sweep wings.
The plane first entered service in the early 1970s. A decade later a better variant called Su-24M with a different radar and targeting equipment needed for more precise weapons was introduced. This model is the backbone of Russia’s tactical bomber. Sukhoi continues upgrading the aircraft.
Sukhoi Su-25 (Frogfoot)
Su-25 is another Russian Air Force work horse, introduced in early 1980s. The jet was designed for close air support – that is, to directly help ground forces engage the enemy.
The final phases of its trials included real combat missions in Afghanistan. This ‘baptism by fire’ proved quite useful, as feedback from the military was used to increase the plane’s survivability, which was already very high as dictated by its purpose. By the time the design was finalized, Su-25 had seven years of serial production behind it.
A variant of the plane called Su-25UT was made for the Russian navy. Another one, Su-25T, is a tank-killer. The current fleet of about 200 Su-25s is undergoing an upgrade to the most advanced modification Su-25SM.