May 20, 2006:
Russia has finally decided to start production of the Su-34 fighter-bomber. But they're so strapped for cash that the first run will only be 24 aircraft. These are expected to enter service in 2010. While they will probably be able to boost production thereafter, it's unlikely that the Russian Air Force will try to buy more than about a 100. Apparently one goal in undertaking serial production is to encourage foreign purchases. The 39 ton aircraft is yet another variant on the very successful Su27. In this case, it is a replacement for the Su-24 bomber, which is beginning to show its age (over twenty years). The Su-34 is most similar to the U.S. F-15E.