The Russian Defense Ministry has signed a deal for 92 Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers from the Sukhoi aircraft maker, the ministry said on Thursday.

The deal under which the warplanes are to be delivered by 2020 was signed by Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Sukhoi General Director Igor Ozar.

This is one of the largest warplane contracts under the government arms procurement program and it will help replace all of the Su-24 bombers currently in service with the “4+ generation” aircraft, Serdyukov said.

The ministry previously said a total of 70 Su-34s will be delivered by 2015.

The news comes a week after Russia partially resumed flights of Su-24 Fencer tactical bombers after one of them crashed in Russia’s Urals.

All Su-24s were grounded after the crash, in the woods of the Kurgan region during a routine flight on February 13. Both pilots ejected safely. The crash was the third of a Su-24 in Russia over the last four months. The two previous crashes occurred in October and December 2011.

It has been in service with the Russian Air Force since the mid-1970s. However, in recent years Russia has gradually been phasing out the planes, which have a patchy safety record.

The Defense Ministry earlier said the Air Force will procure over 1,500 new aircraft by 2020.

Russia started the full-scale production of Su-34s in 2008 at a Novosibirsk-based aircraft-manufacturing plant, a subsidiary of the Sukhoi Aircraft Holding.

Designed by Sukhoi, the $36-million Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat strike aircraft fitted with twin AL-31MF afterburner turbojet engines.

It is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily-defended targets under any weather conditions, day or night, and is equipped with a 30-mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs.
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