Russia may develop a single seat variant of the Su-34 fighter-bomber.
The former commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces and current Chairman of the Federal Council’s Defense and Security Committee, Viktor Bondarev, told Tass Russian News Agency on Wednesday that the Russian military may receive a single-seat variant of the Su-34.
My opinion is that a new attack aircraft should be made on the basis of the Su-34 after all. This is a splendid plane. It is maneuverable and has eight tonnes of the bomb load against four tonnes carried by the Su-25. It has excellent characteristics. I believe that it is simpler and easier to make a cockpit for one pilot and leave all the rest as it is.
An attack aircraft will always be needed. The Su-25 has been upgraded to the Su-25SM3 version. It has a very reliable airframe and huge modernization and repair potential. I believe it will fly for another 10-15 years. Naturally, we will have to replace it eventually and today various options are being considered.
Design work on the new variant is likely to begin some time in 2018.
Russia aims to eventually replace its Su-25s with the newer attack aircraft, though has continued to modernize the Su-25s currently in service. Deliveries of the upgraded Su-25SM3 should occur in November.
A source told Interfax in October, “The first phase of special flight tests of the most advanced version of the modernized Su-25SM3 attack plane should be completed this month, which makes it possible to start their deliveries to the Russian Aerospace Forces in November.”