Warplanes: September 14, 2002


The Russian Air Force wanted the new two-seat bomber version of the Su-27 Flanker fighter (the Su-27IB) in service by 1995 to replace the aging Fencers, but due to a lack of money will be lucky to see the planes flying in squadron strength before 2010. Making this worse, money that could go to buy Su-27IBs will be used to modify and update the Su-24 Flankers to keep them flying, and to modify some Su-27 and Su-30 fighters to provide them with a limited air-to-surface capability. At least a few Su-27IBs have been built (perhaps seven, two of which were used for ground tests) and a flight test program is under way.--Stephen V Cole


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