A dedicated fighter bomber version of the Su-27 'Flanker' was developed from the early 1980s, with the Sukhoi bureau designation T-10V, making its first flight on 13 April 1990. Its official designation originally was Su-27IB

It was developed in parallel with the two-seat naval trainer, the Su-27KUB, although, contrary to earlier reports, the two aircraft are not directly related.

Severe budget restrictions following the collapse of the Soviet Union led the program to stall repeatedly, and led to the prototype aircraft being displayed publicly under a confusing variety of roles and designations. When first described in the official Russian press in 1994 it was described as the Su-34.

The third pre-production aircraft was shown at a Paris air show in 1995 as the Su-34FN (FN for "Fighter, Navy"), described as a shore-based naval aircraft, and it was displayed as the Su-34MF (MF for MnogoFunksionalniy, multi-function) at the MAKS air show in 1999.