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Leaked: Su-34 crew meets Patriot – ‘Will we still live, Seryozha?’

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The Telegram channel Fighterbomber, known for its close ties with the Russian military in Ukraine, shared an alleged conversation between a two-man crew of a Su-34 fighter-bomber and an encounter with an American Patriot missile. The exact date of the recording remains unclear, and BulgarianMilitary.com cannot verify its authenticity.

Leaked: Su-34 crew meets Patriot - 'Will we still live, Seryozha?'
Photo credit: Dzen

As per Fighterbomber, the event took place during a “strategically important mission.” The recording starts with one pilot asking the other, “Well, Seryoga, are we going to live a little longer?” This phrase is believed to be a sign that the Su-34 crew knew they were about to enter more complex, hazardous, and contested airspace.

Shortly after this initial exchange, the combat control officer’s commands can be heard. Utilizing radio communications, the officer coordinates the crew’s actions, offering critical information and instructions.

Russian Su-34 is too heavy as a fighter and too small as a bomber
Photo by Alex Beltyukov

The mission

According to Fighterbomber, Su-34 pilots were gearing up to strike a fortified military site using four high-precision FABs. However, as they neared the target, it became evident that the aircraft was within the range of the Patriot air defense system, renowned for its high efficiency and accuracy.

Despite the looming threat of the anti-aircraft system, Fighterbomber notes that the crew pressed on with their mission. The following footage captures the pilots’ intense focus, with their usual banter replaced by concentrated silence. Words of encouragement from the combat control officer are also audible. Fighterbomber writes, “At the moment Patriot missiles were launched at the Su-34, the chances of success seemed slim.” Thus, the pilots had to exhibit exceptional skill in maneuvering the aircraft to evade the incoming fire.

Russia acquired new Su-34Ms with rear-hemisphere scanning radar
Photo credit: Global Look Press

‘The best job in the world’

“The situation was extremely tense, every moment could have been their last. In these conditions, the professionalism and coordination of the crew played a crucial role. Their courage and quick reactions helped the pilots avoid return fire and escape the air defense zone, saving their lives,” explains Fighterbomber. However, Fighterbomber’s comment does not clarify if a Patriot missile was actually launched at the Russian Su-34. It is entirely possible that no missile was launched, but the Russian crew was aware that a Patriot system was in the area and posed a real threat.

Once the threat had passed, the conversation on the recording grew calmer. At the end of the recording, one of the pilots repeats the opening line, asking his comrade again: “Well, Seryoga, shall we live a little longer?” The liveliness in their voices reveals an unmistakable sense of relief and enthusiasm. One pilot added jokingly: “Now let’s smoke a cigarette each…” The tension had given way to humor, and the incident was already being seen as just another test in their challenging daily life. By the end of their conversation, the pilots agree that they have “the best job in the world.”

New Su-34 delivery, but even it can't offset losses in 2024
Photo credit: The National Interest

Patriot is a real threat to the Su-34

According to BulgarianMilitary.com, the Su-34 faces more challenges in countering missiles from the Patriot system compared to its fellow aircraft like the Su-30Su-35, and Su-57. The primary issue lies in executing the “anti-missile maneuver” or “anti-aircraft maneuvers.” Designed primarily as a strike fighter, the Su-34 has a larger and heavier airframe, which significantly reduces its agility and maneuverability. This makes performing high-G anti-aircraft maneuvers effectively much harder.

Moreover, while the Su-34 is equipped with advanced avionics and electronic warfare systems, these are tailored more for ground attack roles rather than air-to-air combat. As a result, its sensors and countermeasures aren’t as optimized for detecting and evading air-to-air threats like the Patriot missile.

Second Patriot battery for Ukraine, it will come from Germany
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The Patriot missile system itself is renowned for its cutting-edge radar and guidance technologies, which can precisely track and engage fast-moving targets. The Su-34’s comparatively slower speed and larger radar cross-section render it a more accessible target for the Patriot’s advanced tracking and targeting systems.

The KMA news department was not involved in the creation of the content above. This article was produced by Bulgarian military. For more information go to bulgarianmilitary.com

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