In the last week of 2010, the Russian Air Force received four new Su-34 fighter-bombers. Between 2008 and 2015, the air force will receive 70 of these aircraft. Twenty have already been delivered and the first squadron is operational. Last year, a long distance (6,000 kilometer) exercise was held, with the Su-34s being refueled twice as the aircraft flew towards practice targets in the Far East.
Russia began mass production of the Su-34 fighter-bombers in 2008. These are now replacing the older, 43 ton Su-24s. The 45 ton Su-34 is yet another variant of the 33 ton Su-27, and is very similar to the 36 ton U.S. F-15E (a two seat fighter bomber version of the 31 ton F-15C.)
The Su-34 has a full set of defensive and offensive sensors (radars, targeting cameras, laser designators) and electronic warfare gear, and can carry eight tons of missiles and smart bombs. Russia is buying 58 Su-34s to replace 300 Su-24s (most of these are not fit for service). By this year, Russia plans to have 24 Su-34s in service, at a cost of $36 million each (less than half the cost of an F-15E).
Meanwhile, some of the more recently built Su-24s were upgraded as the Su-24M2 standard. Most of the 1,400 Su-24s built are over 25 years old, and many have been grounded several times recently because of age related problems. The Su-34 has been in the works for most of the last decade, and earlier versions of two seater Su-27 bombers were known as the Su-32.