Career of designer behind Russia's iconic Su-34 jet remembered following death at 84 (PHOTOS)

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The lead designer of Russia’s Su-34 modern fighter-bomber jet, Rollan Martirosov, has died aged 84. He is set to live on through the state-of-the-art aircraft and many other projects to which he contributed.

Martirosov had worked with the Sukhoi construction bureau since 1959, and was involved in the creation of the majority of jet aircraft produced by the renowned plane maker. His work began with the very first jet developed by the construction bureau – the Su-7, specifically its fighter-bomber variant – as well as Su-15 fighter aircraft.

He was also involved in the creation of the T-4 – an experimental high-speed reconnaissance, anti-ship and strategic bomber aircraft, which was designed in the 1970s but never made it to mass-production.

Like the early variants of the iconic Su-24 attack aircraft, modern versions of the jet still remain the backbone of Russian tactical aviation.

Martirosov also participated in the development of the Su-27 multirole fighter jet, before finally getting to lead his own projects.

Undefeated P-42 record-breaking jet

In the 1980s, Martirosov oversaw work on a very special plane, the P-42, which was conceived as a record-breaking aircraft. The plane was basically a barebones variant of the Su-27 fighter jet, stripped of every non-essential system. The plane was extremely fast and light – its takeoff weight was just about 14 tons – half that of a basic Sukhoi jet.

In the late 1980s, Sukhoi’s test pilots set over 40 internationally recognized records in reaching certain altitudes and speeds. Some 12 of the records remain unbeaten to date – in fact, all of them are unsurpassed, but the rules for other achievements have changed over the decades.

Su-34 fighter-bomber

The modern Su-34 fighter-bomber and strike aircraft became the true pinnacle of Martirosov’s career. The designer led work on the plane from 1990 until his death, seeing it through all stages to create a masterpiece of an aircraft, from early prototypes to active combat service.

Apart from its impressive looks – with certain vicious duck vibes – the aircraft features state-of-art weapons control systems, impressive flight characteristics, and range of some 4,000km. That long range is quite unusual for an aircraft of such role, and makes it very flexible in terms of its use.


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The aircraft features a spacious and comfy cabin, even including space for pilots to take a little walk, which is very handy for long-distance flights. The plane is also very capable in air combat and, while its primary targets are on the ground, an Su-34 is not easy prey for enemy fighters.

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Adopted by the Air Force back in 2014, the aircraft is expected to become the main Russian tactical bomber, replacing its older cousins such as the ageing Su-24 jet. The aircraft saw active service in Syria during Russia’s anti-terrorism campaign.

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