The Sukhoi Su-30 (Russian: Сухой Су-30; NATO reporting name: Flanker-C/G/H) is a twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft developed in the Soviet Union by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.
The Su-30 started out as an internal development project in the Sukhoi Su-27 family by Sukhoi. The design plan was revamped and the name was made official by the Russian Defense Ministry in 1996. Of the Flanker family, the Su-27, Su-30, Su-33, Su-34 and Su-35 have been ordered into limited or serial production by the Russian Defense Ministry. The Su-30 has two distinct version branches, manufactured by competing organisations: KnAAPO and the Irkut Corporation, both of which come under the Sukhoi group’s umbrella.
KnAAPO manufactures the Su-30MKK and the Su-30MK2, which were designed for and sold to China, and later Indonesia, Uganda, Venezuela, and Vietnam. Due to KnAAPO’s involvement from the early stages of developing the Su-35, these are basically a two-seat version of the mid-1990s Su-35. The Chinese chose an older but lighter radar so the canards could be omitted in return for increased payload. It is a fighter with both air supremacy and attack capabilities, generally similar to the U.S F-15E Strike Eagle.
Irkut traditionally served the Soviet Air Defense and, in the early years of Flanker development, was given the responsibility of manufacturing the Su-27UB, the two-seat trainer version. When India showed interests in the Su-30, Irkut offered the multirole Su-30MKI, which originated as the Su-27UB modified with avionics appropriate for fighters. Along with its ground-attack capabilities, the series adds features for the air-superiority role, such as canards, thrust-vectoring, and a long-range phased-array radar. Its derivatives include the Su-30MKM, MKA, and SM for Malaysia, Algeria, and Russia respectively. The Russian Air Force operates several Su-30s and has ordered the Su-30SM variant as well.
While the original Su-27 had good range, it still did not have enough range for the Soviet Air Defense Forces (PVO, as opposed to VVS – the Soviet Air Force). The Air Defense Forces needed to cover the vast expanse of the Soviet Union. Hence, development began in 1986 on the Su-27PU, an improved-capability variant of the Su-27 capable of serving as a long-range interceptor or airborne command post.
The two-seat Su-27UB combat trainer was selected as the basis for the Su-27PU, because it had the performance of a single-seat Su-27 with seating for two crew members. A “proof-of-concept” demonstrator flew 6 June 1987, and this success led to the kick-off of development work on two Su-27PU prototypes. The first Su-27PU flew at Irkutsk on 31 December 1989, and the first of three pre-production models flew on 14 April 1992.
The Su-30 is a multirole fighter. It has a two-seat cockpit with an airbrake behind the canopy.
The integrated aerodynamic configuration, combined with the thrust vectoring control ability, results in high manoeuvrability and unique takeoff and landing characteristics. Equipped with a digital fly-by-wire system, the Su-30 is able to perform some very advanced manoeuvres, including the Pugachev’s Cobra and the tailslide. These manoeuvers quickly decelerate the aircraft, causing a pursuing fighter to overshoot, as well as breaking a Doppler radar-lock, as the relative speed of the aircraft drops below the threshold where the signal registers to the radar.
The aircraft’s powerplant incorporates two Saturn AL-31F afterburning low-bypass turbofan engines, fed through intake ramps. Two AL-31Fs, each rated at 123 kN (28,000 lbf) of full afterburning thrust ensures Mach 2 in level flight, 1,350 km/h speed at low altitude, and a 230 m/s climbing rate.
With a normal fuel reserve of 5,270 kg, the Su-30MK is capable of performing a 4.5-hour combat mission with a range of 3,000 km. An aerial refueling system increases the range to 5,200 km (3,200 mi) or flight duration up to 10 hours at cruise altitudes.
The aircraft features autopilot ability at all flight stages including low-altitude flight in terrain-following radar mode, and individual and group combat employment against air and ground/sea-surface targets. Automatic control system interconnected with the navigation system ensures route flight, target approach, recovery to airfield and landing approach in automatic mode.
- Su-30 (Su-27PU): PU for Punkt Upravlenija – “Control Point” or Perechvatcik Uchebnyj – “Interceptor Trainer”. Modernized Su-27UB. 5 units operated by the Russian Air Defence Forces.
- Su-30K: Commercial (export) version of the basic Su-30. The Indian Air Force briefly operated some Su-30Ks in the late 1990s.
- Su-30KI: Sukhoi proposal for upgrading Russian AF single seat Su-27S. Also proposed export version for Indonesia, 24 were ordered but subsequently cancelled due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
- Su-30KN: Upgrade project for operational two-seat fighters, the Su-27UB, Su-30 and Su-30K. This was cancelled in Russia but later revived as Su-30M2. Belarus consider updating ex-Indian Su-30K to the Su-30KN standard.
- Su-30MK: Commercial version of Su-30M first revealed in 1993. Export versions include navigation and communication equipment from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
Su-30MKI and derivatives
- Su-30MKI: MKI for Modernizirovannyi Kommercheskiy Indiski – “Modernized Commercial Indian”. An export version for India, jointly developed with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is the first Su-30 family member to feature thrust vectoring control (TVC) and canards. Equipped with a multinational avionics complex sourced from Russia, India, France and Israel.
- Su-30MKA: A version of the Su-30MKI, except with French and Russian avionics for Algeria.
- Su-30MKM: A derivative of the Russian-Indian Su-30MKI, the MKM is a highly specialised version for Royal Malaysian Air Force. It includes thrust vectoring control (TVC) and canards but with avionics from various countries. It will feature head-up displays (HUD), navigational forward-looking IR system (NAVFLIR) and Damocles Laser Designation pod (LDP) from Thales Group of France, MAW-300 missile approach warning sensor (MAWS), RWS-50 RWR and laser warning sensor (LWS) from SAAB AVITRONICS (South Africa) as well as the Russian NIIP N011M Bars Passive electronically scanned array radar, electronic warfare (EW) system, optical-location system (OLS) and a glass cockpit.
- Su-30SM: SM for Serijnyi Modernizirovannyi – “Serial Modernized”. A specialised version of the thrust-vectoring Su-30MKI for the Russian Air Force, produced by the Irkut Corporation. NATO reporting name Flanker-H.
The Su-30SM is considered a 4+ generation fighter jet. The aircraft has been upgraded according to Russian military requirements for radar, radio communications systems, friend-or-foe identification system, ejection seats, weapons, and other aircraft systems.[ It is equipped with the N011M Bars radar with a maximum detection range 400 km, search range 200 km using a phased array antenna, frontal horizontal fins and steerable thrusters for supermaneuverability as well as with wide-angle HUD. The aircraft can be used to gain air supremacy same as for targeting adversary on the ground using wide range of weapons including air-to-air, air-to-surface and guided and unguided bombs with total weapons weight up to 8000 kg. It is also equipped with the one barrel, 30 mm GSh-30-1 autocannon. To ensure operations at major distances from airfield, the ability of in-flight refueling (IFR) is included. Besides that, for electronic warfare purposes two SAP-518 jamming pods can be fitted on the wing tips. The SAP-518 is designed to protect the aircraft from various air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles by creating false targets, jamming missile’s guidance, enemy aircraft radars or ground and seaborne air defence.
- Su-30SME: Proposed export version of Su-30SM unveiled at the Singapore Airshow 2016.
- Su-30SM2: Initially referred to it as SM1, is an upgrade project of Russian Su-30SM fighters, equipped with the N035 Irbis radar and more powerful AL-41F1S engines of the Su-35S, with the goal to reduce operational costs when unifying the two fighters. The modernized fighters will also obtain new types of weapons, namely the KAB-250 aerial bombs and Kh-59MK2 stealth cruise missile. First deliveries are scheduled for end-2020.
Su-30MKK and derivatives
- Su-30MKK: MKK for Modernizirovanniy Kommercheskiy Kitayskiy – “Modernized Commercial for China”. An export version for China. NATO reporting name Flanker-G.
- Su-30MK2: Modernized Su-30MKK for China, Indonesia and Uganda with advanced avionics and weapons.
- Su-30MK2V: Su-30MK2 variant for Vietnam with minor modifications.
- Su-30MKV: Export version of Su-30MK2 for Venezuela.
- Su-30M2: A Su-30MK2 version developed by KnAAPO. The Russian Air Force placed an initial order for the variant in 2009. Factory tests were completed in September 2010. Twenty aircraft have been ordered; 4 in 2009 and 16 in 2012. At least 12 have been produced as of August 2014, all four from the first contract in 2009, and eight from the second contract of 2012. They are mostly to be used as combat training aircraft for Su-30SM and Su-35S fighters.
- Su-30MK3: A proposed version with Phazotron Zhuk-MSF radar.
|Length||21.935 m (72 ft 0 in)|
|Wingspan||14.7 m (48 ft 3 in)|
|Height||6.36 m (20 ft 10 in)|
|Wing area||62 m2 (670 sq ft)|
|Empty weight||17,700 kg (39,022 lb)|
|Gross weight||24,900 kg (54,895 lb)|
|Max take off weight||34,500 kg (76,059 lb)|
|Power plant (Dry thrust)||2 × Saturn AL-31FL Afterburning turbofan engines, 74.5 kN (16,700 lbf) thrust each dry|
|Power plant (Thrust with afterburner)||2 × 122.6 kN (27,600 lbf)|
|Maximum speed (Sea level)|
|Maximum speed (High altitude)||Mach 2 (1,320 mph, 2,120 km/h)|
|Ferry range||3,000 km (1,900 mi, 1,600 nmi) at high altitude|
|Service ceiling||17,300 m (56,800 ft)|
|Rate of climb||230 m/s (45,000 ft/min)|
|Wing loading||468.3 kg/m2 (95.9 lb/sq ft) with full internal fuel|
|Design load factor||+9g|
|Avionics||– Bars planar array radar
– OEPS-27 electro-optical targeting system
– OLS-30 IRST
– SPO-15 Radar Warning Receiver
|Armament||– Guns: 1 × 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon with 150 rounds
– Hardpoints: 12 hardpoints with a capacity of up to 8,000 kg (18,000 lb)
- Algerian Air Force – 58 Su-30MKAs in inventory, 16 more ordered.
- Angolan Air Force – 12 Su-30Ks in inventory.
- Armenian Air Force – 4 Su-30SMs in inventory, 8 on order.
- Belarusian Air Force – 4 Su-30SMs in inventory, 12 ordered.
- Indian Air Force – 272 Su-30MKIs in inventory, 12 ordered.
- Indonesian Air Force – 2 Su-30MKs and 9 Su-30MK2s in inventory.
- Kazakh Air Force – 12 Su-30SMs in inventory, 24 ordered. More aircraft were delivered in November 2020.
- Royal Malaysian Air Force – 18 Su-30MKMs in inventory.
- Myanmar Air Force – 6 Su-30SME ordered[ and another 6 ordered in early 2019.
- People’s Liberation Army Air Force – 73 Su-30MKKs in inventory.
- People’s Liberation Army Naval Air Force – 24 Su-30MK2s in inventory.
- Russian Air Force – 19 Su-30M2s and 92 Su-30SMs in inventory.
- Russian Navy – 22 Su-30SMs in inventory, 21 Su-30SM2s on order, 50 aircraft planned in total.
- Ugandan Air Force – 6 Su-30MK2s in inventory.
- Venezuelan Air Force – 22 Su-30MKVs in inventory.
- Vietnam People’s Air Force – 32 Su-30MK2Vs in inventory.