NEWS

Russia is buying more of these 'Fullback' fighter jets — and they're pretty impressive

The Russian Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that its air force has received a new batch of fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-34 bombers.


While the Russian Ministry of Defense did not say how many planes were delivered, it did say that it was slated to get a total of 16 in 2017.

The Su-34, dubbed "Fullback" by NATO, is one of Russia's most capable aircraft — able to engage targets on the ground and in the air — and has been used extensively in Syria.

Russia's Sukhoi SU-34 Bomber. (Image Spunky Warriors Youtube grab)

Here's what it can do.

  • The Su-34 Fullback, which made its maiden flight in 1990, was built to replace the Su-24.
  • It was also modeled off the Su-27 Flanker, as were the Su-30, Su-33, and Su-35.
  • It's normal takeoff weight is 39 tons, and its maximum takeoff weight is 44.4 tons.
  • It runs on two Saturn AL-31F turbofan engines, each capable of about 27,500 pounds of thrust.
  • It has a maximum speed of about 1,181 mph and a maximum range of about 2,485 miles. It can also reach an altitude of about 10.5 miles.
  • Its two-person cockpit has a nearly 0.7-inch thick armored covering.
  • The Su-34 cockpit displays show flight parameters, tactical data, and operational status.
  • The cockpit even has a urinal, as well as a small kitchen.
  • It carries a variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. It is believed to be able to hit air targets 75 miles away and ground targets 60 miles away.

    Russia's Sukhoi SU-34 Bomber. (Image Spunky Warriors Youtube grab)

  • It carries short-range R-73 and long-range radar-guided R-77 air-to-air missiles. It also carries Kh-59ME, Kh-31A, Kh-31P, Kh-29T, Kh-29L, and S-25LD air-to-ground missiles.
  • The Fullback can also be armed with rockets as well as guided and unguided bombs, like the RBK-500 and SPBE-D cluster bombs.
  • The video below shows the Flanker dropping KAB-500 bombs in Syria in 2015.
  • The graphic gives a very thorough breakdown of the Flanker's capabilities, including which ordnance it carries and where it hangs on the wings.
  • Russia first deployed four Su-34s to Syria in September 2015, and Moscow is now believed to have six in the war-torn country.
  • While Russia likes to tout how many terrorists it kills in air strikes, their figures are often exaggerated and fail to mention civilian casualties.
  • By March 2016, after just six months of military operations in Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Russian airstrikes had killed about 5,800 civilians.
  • Russia has used Syria to test and showcase its weaponry but has sold the Fullback to only one country, Algeria.
  • Russia plans to maintain a fleet of 92 Fullbacks until 2020.

History

This pilot shot down an enemy fighter at Pearl Harbor in his pajamas

Comfort is important when doing a hard job. If it's hot on the work site, it's important to stay cool. If it's hazardous, proper protection needs to be worn. And comfort is apparently key when the Japanese sneak attack the Navy. Just ask Lt. Phil Rasmussen, who was one of four pilots who managed to get off the ground to fight the Japanese in the air.

Rasmussen, like many other American GIs in Hawaii that day, was still asleep when the Japanese launched the attack at 0755. The Army Air Forces 2nd Lieutenant was still groggy and in his pajamas when the attacking wave of enemy fighters swarmed Wheeler Field and destroyed many of the Army's aircraft on the ground.

Damaged aircraft on Hickam Field, Hawaii, after the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

There were still a number of outdated Curtiss P-36A Hawk fighters that were relatively untouched by the attack. Lieutenant Rasmussen strapped on a .45 pistol and ran out to the flightline, still in his pajamas, determined to meet the sucker-punching Japanese onslaught.

By the time the attack ended, Wheeler and Hickam Fields were both devastated. Bellows Field also took a lot of damage, its living quarters, mess halls, and chapels strafed by Japanese Zeros. American troops threw back everything they could muster – from anti-aircraft guns to their sidearms. But Rasmussen and a handful of other daring American pilots managed to get in the air, ready to take the fight right back to Japan in the Hawks if they had to. They took off under fire, but were still airborne.

Pearl Harbor pilots Harry Brown, Phil Rasmussen, Ken Taylor, George Welch, and Lewis Sanders.

They made it as far as Kaneohe Bay.

The four brave pilots were led by radio to Kaneohe, where they engaged 11 enemy fighters in a vicious dogfight. Even in his obsolete old fighter, Rasmussen proved that technology is no match for good ol' martial skills and courage under fire. He managed to shoot down one of the 11, but was double-teamed by two attacking Zeros.

Gunfire and 20mm shells shattered his canopy, destroyed his radio, and took out his hydraulic lines and rudder cables. He was forced out of the fighting, escaping into nearby clouds and making his way back to Wheeler Field. When he landed, he did it without brakes, a rudder, or a tailwheel.

There were 500 bullet holes in the P-36A's fuselage.

Skillz.

Lieutenant Rasmussen earned the Silver Star for his boldness and would survive the war, getting his second kill in 1943. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1965, but will live on in the Museum of the United States Air Force, forever immortalized as he hops into an outdated aircraft in his pajamas.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

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