After the satellite photos of the Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers, now a photo appeared showing a Su-34 getting the same treatment.
A week after the satellite photos of Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers covered with tires started appearing online, a new photo is now showing also a Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback bomber with tires on the fuselage, wings and horizontal stabilizers. The photo, took at an unspecified location, has been edited to remove the registration and bort number, making the identification impossible.
It appears the photo was published on the Russian social media VK’s page of the well-known FighterBomber Telegram channel. The aircraft is parked on the ramp, unarmed and with the canopy also covered by a tarp, so we can’t rule out the aircraft being not operational. Again, the reason for the presence of the tires on top of the aircraft is not known, so the theories already presented in our earlier report still stand.
— MilitaryAviationInUa (@MilAviaUA) September 8, 2023
According to Ukrainian sources, the tires are being used as a sort of makeshift protection from attacks carried out with kamikaze drones, while other theory say the tires might be used as counterweight. This time, however, unlike the Tu-95s, it is not possible to determine the absence of any major components. In fact, it seem the Su-34 might be missing at least a part of the right engine’s nozzle, if not the entire engine, but this can’t be verified due to the quality of the photo.
Another theory sees the aircraft being used as decoy to get possible strikes away from operations aircraft, or to make radar targeting harder. The last one is also supported by the fact that the tire cover on the Tu-95 was observed altering the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image of the bomber.
Russian forces have been observed for months trying to reduce the effects of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and to improve the protection against drone strikes, often with improvised camouflage and covers.
For what concerns makeshift protections, it looks like the Russians are using all possibile ways, including the most unconventional ones, to protect their assets from Ukrainian air strikes..
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— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) September 7, 2023