The Russian Air Force has
received the first six of twelve upgraded Su-24 fighter-bombers. The
improvements include modern electronics (all digital, flat panel screens, GPS
and so on). The aircraft were also equipped to deliver all the latest smart
bombs. Russia apparently wants to get the most out of the few flyable Su24s it
still has in service. Three times this year, so far, Russian Su-24 bombers were
grounded because one of them had crashed. Su-24s have been in service for 32
years, and about a third, of the 1,400 manufactured, are still in technically
service. But, like the U.S. F-15Cs (about the same age as the Su-24), older
aircraft get cranky and unreliable.
The Su24 was something of an "F-111 Lite." The 43
ton, swing-wing bomber has a crew of two and can carry up to eight tons of
weapons. The aircraft has inefficient engines, and lots of 1980s vintage
electronics. When everything worked, the Su-24 was an all-weather bomber
capable of delivering dumb bombs quite accurately. Most of the time, everything
didn't work. The new upgrade (the Su-24M2) aims to fix that.