Two "production standard" Sukhoi Su-27IB (Su-34) strike aircraft have been fitted with the Leninetz phased-array radar, with flight-testing about to get under way, according to Sukhoi officials.

What Sukhoi describes as the "second production aircraft" is now at Pushkino air base near St Petersburg, where Leninetz is based. This airfield is the test base for Leninetz, a design bureau which is traditionally associated with strike/attack radars.

The third "series production" Su-27IB, T-10V-4, was flown from the Novosibirsk production plant shortly before the end of 1996. The aircraft is claimed to carry a full avionics and weapon systems suite, with the exception of the electronic warfare (EW) fit. Development of the EW package has suffered from even greater delays than the overall Su-27IB programme.

A further four Su-27IB aircraft are in various stages of assembly at Novosibirsk. One aircraft is in the airframe assembly jig, with another, the fourth production standard aircraft, in the final stages of having its avionics installed.

The white area on the nose(above) would appear to correspond to the small dielectric section for the radar. Fully painted Su-27IBs have sported nose section paint schemes which have suggested a larger dielectric section. Aircraft seen painted in primer, however, do not support this.

The Su-27IB is viewed as a priority programme by the Russian air force. The aircraft is destined to replace the Su-24 Fencer in the strike role. Reconnaissance and electronic-warfare variants of the Su-27IB are also likely to be developed, while Sukhoi has also proposed a maritime-strike Su-27IB, which it dubs the Su-32FN.

The programme, unlike many other air force projects, is continuing to receive Russian state funding, signalling its importance to the air force.

The naval Su-27IB variant was on static display at the Paris air show in 1995. This aircraft, curiously, carried the airframe number T-10V-5. For some reason it was completed before T-10V-4.

Source: Flight International