Developed in the late 1980's as a variant to the Su-27 Flanker B, the Su-27IB (or Su-34) is a new tactical fighter bomber intended to replace the aging fleet of Russian Su-17, Su-24, and MiG-27 attack aircraft currently in service. Based on the Su-27UB two seat in line trainer, the Su-34 first flew in April of 1990 with the first purpose built tandem side by side seat prototype flying in December of 1993.
As a strike aircraft, the Su-34 incorperates an advanced multi-function phased array radar capable of terrain following and avoidance for high speed, low level operations. In addition, the Su-34 features a rearward facing radar capqable of detecting, tracking, and directing R-73 or R-77 AAMs at persuing enemy aircraft. In addition to its capabilities as a strike aircraft, a version is being fielded to replace the Su-24MR for service as a tactical reconnaissance aircraft (similar in function to the RC-4 Phantom II) and airborne electronic warfare (similar to the EF-111 Raven). This version will incorperate sideways looking radar, signal gathering and classification equipment, television, infrared, laser and photographic abilities into a single, fully integrated package. The Su-34 is currently entering service with the Russian Airforce with Naval and export versions under development.