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AIRCRAFT PROFILE Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker

I have always dreamed of something


extraordinary, but this Su-30SM
sortie exceeded by far my
dreams and expectations.

OLONEL RADIK Bariev, commanding the Russian defence


ministry 929th State Flight Test
Centre, is a seasoned military
test pilot with more than 2,000
flight test hours. He says without
hesitation that the thrust-vectoring
Su-30MKI, which he flew during
its qualification testing in the early
2000s, is the most memorable of
the many types in his logbook.
It boasts excellent aerodynamic
performance, combined with an
advanced fly-by-wire (FBW) flight
control system (FCS) and plenty of
thrust. Col Bariev asserts that the
aircraft provides virtually unlimited
handling capabilities thanks to
its thrust-vectoring control (TVC)
technology. Furthermore, the TVC
Flanker has led pilots to rethink
handling techniques in the post-stall
regime and weapons employment
opportunities at speeds close to zero.
Russian Air Force air combat
instructors with considerable
experience on the Su-27 tested
the then new Su-30MKI at the
Lipetsk combat training centre in
the early 2000s, enthusiastically
declaring it the fighter they needed.
The TVC Flanker finally arrived
at Lipetsk, modified for Russian
service, in August 2013, when the
first Su-30SMs were delivered for
field trials and instructor training.
After his first familiarisation
ride, the centres outspoken and
long-time CO, Maj Gen Alexander
Kharchevskiy, rapturously
declared: I have always dreamed
of something extraordinary, but
this Su-30SM sortie exceeded by
far my dreams and expectations.
Despite the presence of the
theoretically more advanced
Su-35S, the Su-30MKI/MKA/
MKM/SM series is widely

56 MAY 2016 #338

considered as the premier Russian


fighter. In contrast to the
redesigned, single-seat Su-35S,
which is plagued by teething
troubles, the proven multi-role
Su-30MKI/MKA/MKM/SM was
declared combat-ready some
time ago. It is compatible with a
wide variety of air-to-surface and
air-to-air weaponry and has been a
subject to incremental upgrades.
It is noteworthy that the Su-30MKI
for India, Su-30MKM for Malaysia
and Algerias Su-30MKA boast
more capable mission avionics than
the Su-30SM built for the Russian
Air and Space Force (RuASF) and
Russian Naval Aviation (RNA),
and for export to Kazakhstan. The
Indian, Malaysian and Algerian
Flankers employ high-tech optronic
targeting pods which, combined
with an 8-tonne warload, makes
them capable tactical bombers.
They are also compatible
with advanced reconnaissance
pods and can be employed in
the buddy-buddy air-refuelling
role. Moreover, a portion of the
Indian Su-30MKI fleet is slated
for imminent integration with
the Russo-Indian BhraMos-A
air-launched, conventionally
tipped, Mach 2.5 cruise missile.

Su-30MKI

Dating back to November 1996,


the Indian Su-30 deal involved
development of a vastly improved
two-seat derivative of the baseline
Flanker with true multi-role capabilities, new, fully digital avionics and
greatly enhanced low-speed agility.
The Su-30MKI (K for Komercheskiy
[Commercial] and I for India)
emerged from an extremely
ambitious specification calling for a
multi-mode phased-array radar and

advanced
avionics
incorporating locally
manufactured,
Israeli and Western
components.
Previously unseen
manoeuvrability
was bestowed on the
variant through an
enhanced aerodynamic layout with canard foreplanes,
a sophisticated FBW system
and two-dimensional (2D)
TVC engines. The aircraft
was to be capable of
employing a wide range of
precision-guided air-to-surface
weapons and active radar-homing
(ARH) air-to-air missiles (AAMs),
and capable of a ten-hour mission.
The original US$1.8bn Su-30MKI
contract was signed between
the Indian defence ministry and
Rosvooruzhenie (the premier
state-owned Russian arms export
agency of the 1990s, which was
re-branded Rosoboronexport in
2000) on November 30, 1996.
Irkut was the primary Russian contractor for Su-30MKI design, development and test, while the Sukhoi
Design Bureau, the types design
authority, was the main subcontractor with design responsibility.
The 929th State Flight Test Centre
at Akhtubinsk performed Su-30MKI
qualification testing, certifying that
the aircrafts airworthiness and
operational capabilities were compliant with the customers specification before deliveries commenced.
The test and evaluation effort
continued in Russia until 2006.
The original contract called for
delivery of an initial batch of 40 air-

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Russian
The Multi-Role

The vastly improved two-seat Sukhoi Su-30,


with thrust-vectoring control and multi-role
capabilities, was first exported in the late 1990s,
but Russia only ordered its first examples in
2012. Alexander Mladenov profiles the fighter,
which is set to remain in production well into the
2020s.
craft built at Irkuts IAZ plant in the
city of Irkutsk, western Siberia. The
contract also stipulated delivery of
eight vanilla Su-30Ks as a stopgap solution until mass Su-30MKI
deliveries could begin, since the
development programme was
expected to take at least five years.
The Su-30Ks were delivered
in spring 1997. The model was
a slightly improved Su-27UB
two-seater equipped with
export-standard avionics, a
strengthened fuselage structure,
improved flight control system
and inflight refuelling capability.
To meet the plethora of challenges
associated with the extremely
sophisticated Su-30MKI configuration, Irkut and Sukhoi were obliged
to establish co-operation from
scratch with a number of industrial
partners in India and major thirdparty companies in the West. The
huge, expensive design and
development effort was
completed within
a reasonable
timeframe

thanks to full funding from India.


Three pre-production aircraft
supported the wide-ranging
development programme. Aircraft
designated Su-30I-2, I-4 and I-5
were involved in the prolonged
testing of new design features.
Another, Su-30I-7, was added
later to support the complex
and slow-moving avionics testing and evaluation effort.
The initial Su-30MKI prototype,
based on a series-production
Su-30 fuselage and powered
by AL-31FP TVC engines, made
its first flight on July 1, 1997, in
the hands of Sukhoi test pilot
Vyacheslav Averyanov. Its aerodynamic configuration included
the MKIs all-moving canards
and the modified SDU-10MK
FBW FCS was integrated with the
thrust-vectoring engine nozzles.

TVC engine

The Su-30MKIs AL-31FP


afterburning turbofan uses a 2D
moving nozzle that can deflect
through 15o up and down, with
swelling axis canted 32o sideways.
This smart design enables vertical
and lateral control forces through
thrust vectoring, as well as
differential deflection
of the widely
spaced nozzles.

Above: The two contracts covering a


total of 60 Su-30SMs for the RuASF,
dating from 2012, are set for completion this year. In addition, the Russian
MoD says a contract should be signed
shortly to acquire another 60 to 70
aircraft for delivery between between
2017 and 2019. Irkut

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#338 MAY 2016 57

AIRCRAFT PROFILE Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker


An Indian Air Force Su-30MKI from
the 11th Wing at Tezpur AFS flies
in formation with a RAF Typhoon
during Exercise Indradhanush held
at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, in
July 2015. MOD Crown Copyright

The nozzles can be synchronised


with the tailplanes or moved
independently. Differential
thrust control enables the
TVC Flanker to manoeuvre at
extremely low or even zero
airspeed, when its aerodynamic
control surfaces are ineffective.
Sukhoi was solely responsible for
developing the new aerodynamics
and FBW system, and integrating

Right: An early-production Su30SM takes off with engines in full


afterburner. The jet belongs to the
RuAFs Lipetsk training centre and
is operated by the Flanker-equipped
squadron of the 968th Instructor-Research Composite Aviation Regiment.
Andrey Zinchuk via Alexander Mladenov

the new engines, but the avionics


suite arose through an international
project. It was badly held up, allegedly after the Indian Air Force (IAF)
dragged its heels on approving the
final configuration. This delayed
the entire Su-30MKI programme,
leading to a production slip
and causing the IAF to order an
additional batch of ten Su-30Ks,
taken on strength in mid-1999.

Including French, Indian, Israeli,


Russian and Ukrainian systems,
the final avionics specification
was not issued before 1998.
Primary integrator was the
Russian Ramenskoye Instrument
Design Bureau (better known
under its Russian-language
abbreviation RPKB). Based on
a quadruple-channel Mil Std
1553B avionics data bus, the

Above: An Su-30MKI newly assembled by HAL Nasik taxies out for a functional check flight in May 2007. Alan Warnes
Below: The Royal Malaysian Air Force Su-30MKMs are the most capable among all the two-seat TVC Flanker derivatives, coming equipped with an integrated self-protection suite and boasting the Thales Damocles targeting pod. Alan Warnes

58 MAY 2016 #338

RPKB-integrated suite incorporated several new-generation


Russian systems, including
the Tikhomirov NIIP N011M
Bars radar and UOMZ OLS-30I
optronic targeting system. The
Ukrainian Arsenal Sura-K pilots
helmet-mounted cueing system
(HMCS) was also installed.
The Indians contributed the
mission computer, based on
the DRDO digital processing
unit, VHF/UHF radios, IFF,
navigation aids and Tarang
radar-warning receiver (RWR).
France provided a Sagem
cockpit display system with
three MFD55 5 5in (127
127mm) multi-function liquidcrystal displays (LCDs) in each
cockpit, plus an MFD66 6 6in
(152 152mm) LCD display
in the rear cockpit. Sagem
also supplied the Sigma 95
inertial navigation system/global
positioning system (INS/GPS).

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Below: An Su-30SM from the 120th


SAP, home-based at Domna in Siberia,
in flight during the Russian campaign
in Syria. It is armed with four R-27
and two R-73 air-to-air missiles, a
typical configuration for air-to-air
combat air patrols during military
intervention. Russian MOD

Israeli systems included the Elbit


SU967 head-up display (HUD),
Elta EL/M-8222 active jamming
system and Rafael Litening III
targeting pod. Two types of
Israeli reconnaissance pod were
also delivered, the Elbit Systems
Condor 2 long-range oblique photography (LOROP) system and IAI/
ELTA ELM-2060 synthetic aperture
radar (SAR) and ground moving
target indicator (GMTI) system.

Weapons control

The Su-30MKIs weapons control


system is based on the N011M
Bars, equipped with a 1,000mm
(39.37in) diameter passive electronically-scanned array (PESA),
mechanically steered in azimuth
and elevation. This way the radar
beam can be steered up to 70o to
the left and right (azimuth) and
40o up and down (elevation).
The PESA radar installed in the
Su-30MKI/MKA/MKM includes

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Indian RC1 and RC2 digital processors, which work simultaneously


in the air-to-air and air-to-surface
modes. Radar development was
protracted and the definitive configuration, with operating modes
as per the IAF specification, was
handed not delivered before 2012.
Data released by Tikhomirov
credits the N011M with a head-on
detection range of 140km (76nm)

against small fighters; Bars is


also advertised as capable of
simultaneously tracking no fewer
than 15 airborne targets and
supporting the simultaneous
engagement of four of these with
RVV-AE (R-77) beyond visual
range (BVR) ARH missiles.
The radars air-to-surface modes
enable detection and tracking of
fixed and moving targets; it can

also provide ground mapping with


low, medium and high resolution,
and facilitate terrain-following
flight in automatic mode. Bars
is advertised as capable of
detecting a group of tanks at
45 to 50km (24 to 27nm) with
a resolution of 20m (66ft). A
small-to-medium size surface
target can be seen from 120 to
170km (65 to 91nm) and a large

Su-30MKI
weaponry
ORDNANCE LOADS cleared
for the Su-30MKI include up
to ten Vympel RVV-AE ARH
BVR missiles or as many
as six R-27ER1 semi-active
radar homing BVR missiles,
two R-27TE1 IR-homing BVR
missiles and up to six R-73E
WVR IR-guided missiles.
Air-to-ground weaponry
includes Kh-29TE and Kh-59ME
TV-guided missiles, the Kh-31A
ARH anti-ship missile, and
KAB-500Kr and KAB-1500Kr
TV-guided bombs. The Litening
III targeting pod enables the
employment of laser-guided
bombs and missiles of Russian
and Israeli origin.
The heaviest warload yet flown
included 32 OFAB-250-270
fragmentation/high-explosive
free-fall bombs on multiple
ejector racks, for a total of
17,632lb (8,000kg).
A GSh-301 30mm singlebarrel cannon is built into the
starboard side of the forward
fuselage, with the muzzle
protruding alongside the rear
cockpit.
The gun is provided with 150
rounds, sufficient for five to six
seconds of continuous firing of
highly destructive 13oz (390g)
projectiles at a rate of fire of 2530 rounds per second.

Su-30SM Specification
Wing span: 48ft 3in (14.70m)
Length overall: 71ft 11in (21.94m)
Height: 20ft 10in (6.36m)
Wing area: 667sq ft (62m2)
Normal take-off weight: 56,658lb (25,700kg)
Maximum take-off weight: 74,956lb (34,000kg)
Maximum weapon load: 17,637lb (8,000kg)
Normal internal fuel load: 11,615lb (5,270kg)
Maximum internal fuel load: 21,247lb (9,640kg)
Maximum speed at sea level: 728kts (1,350km/h)
Maximum speed at high altitude: 1,144kts (2,120km/h)
Maximum operating speed: Mach 2.0
Practical ceiling: 56,744ft (17,300m)
Ferry range at high altitude: 1,618nm (3,000km)
Ferry range at low altitude: 685nm (1,270km)
Ferry range with one air refuelling: 2,805nm (5,200km)
Take-off run: 1,804ft (500m)
Landing run: 2,460ft (750m)
g limit: +9
Powerplant: two Saturn AL-31FP TVC turbofans each rated at 16,940lb
(75.5kN) thrust dry and 27,500lb (122.6kN) thrust with full afterburner

#338 MAY 2016 59

AIRCRAFT PROFILE Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker


bridge or ship at 400km (216nm).
Installed ahead of the windscreen
and offset to starboard, the OLS-30
optronic locator and targeting system integrates an infrared search
and track (IRST) sensor and laser
rangefinder. It is quoted as being
capable of tracking aerial targets
at high altitude at up to 90km
(49nm) tail-on and 50km (27nm)
head-on, and scans through 60o
in azimuth, and 150 down and
60o in elevation. The system has
two fields of view wide (20o 5o)
and narrow (3o 3o), the latter for
precise targeting in BVR and within
visual range (WVR) air-to-air combat. The laser rangefinder is useful
at up to 3km (1.6nm) against air
targets and up to 5km (2.7nm) for
ranging against ground targets.
The Su-30MKIs self-protection
suite incorporates the DRDO
Tarang Mk II RWR, IAI Elta El/M8222 active jammer and Russian
APP-50R/A chaff/flare dispensers
containing a total of 96 rounds.
The aircrafts British equipment
is restricted to the Cobham
754 buddy-refuelling pod
carried under the fuselage.

Development progress
The Su-30MKI prototype, Su-30I-1,
was lost on June 12, 1999, during
a display on the first day of that
years Paris air show. Pilot error
during Vyacheslav Averyanovs

Above: The RuASF and RNA Su-30SMs built before the end of 2015 retain their French avionics, mainly represented by the
Thales CTH3022 wide-angle holographic HUD and the Sagem Sigma 95 navigation system. The Russian MOD has since
initiated a programme to replace all French systems with their Russian-made equivalents. Alexander Mladenov

spectacular demonstration
of the types manoeuvrability caused the accident; he and
navigator Vladimir Schedrik
ejected safely after the aircraft
hit the ground and bounced
back into the air with flames
pouring from its rear fuselage.
The second prototype, converted
from the Su-30PU prototype, took
to the air for the first time in its
new guise on March 23, 1998.
The initial pre-production
example, dubbed Su-30I-2, flew
for the first time on August 5,
2000, equipped with the definitive

avionics suite from the outset.


It was initially used for inflight
airframe stress evaluation and was
then involved in mission avionics
and weapons test, tasks completed
in late 2004. These trials, which
confirmed flight and overall
combat performance, included
several firing campaigns for the
RVV-AE and R-27R1 radar-guided
BVR missiles against La-17 and
Dan target drones, Kh-31A missiles
against sea targets and even a
Kh-59ME long-range missile,
launched against a ground target.
The first production Su-30MKI

Above: Algerian Air Force Su-30MKA KF-24/4105 with its retractable refuelling probe extended prior to topping up its
tanks from an Il-78. Algeria was not happy when it realised their initial batch of 28 Su-30MKAs between December 2007
and September 2009 had an Israeli HUD. A further 16 were ordered, deliveries of which are believed to also now have
been completed but its unclear if it persevered with the Elbit Systems SU967.

60 MAY 2016 #338

assembled at IAZ for delivery to


the IAF flew at Irkutsk in December
2001. The first production batch of
ten aircraft was delivered to the IAF
in July and August 2002. The IAF
reported that it had fielded these
aircraft on September 27 that
year, reflecting a 28-month delay
compared to the original schedule.
The fighters had entered service
with No. 24 Squadron at Pune, but
featured only the interim N011M
Mk 1 radar with limited operational
capabilities and supporting only
R-27R1 and R-73 AAMs.
The second batch of 12 aircraft
was equipped with the improved
N011M Mk 2 radar and capable
of firing RVV-AE, Kh-31A and
Kh-59ME missiles; it was delivered
between October and December
2003, followed by the third batch
of ten jets in December 2004.
Equipped with the definitive
N011M Mk 3 radar and with an
Indian computer replacing the
Russian S101, these Su-30MKIs
were compatible with the
Litening III targeting pod. After
2006, the 22 Su-30MKIs from
the first and second production
batches were modified to Batch

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The TVC Flanker has led pilots to


rethink the manoeuvring capabilities
of the post-stall regimes of flight
as well as the handling techniques
at low speeds. The weapons firing
opportunities at speeds close to
zero offer significant advantages in
close air combat. Andrey Zinchuk via
Alexander Mladenov

3 standard. In 2007, 18 further


aircraft were taken on strength.
In total, the IAF received 50
Su-30MKIs fully assembled
and tested at IAZ, 32 of them
ordered within the initial contract,
plus 18 more assembled at IAZ
and acquired in in exchange
for the return to Russia of the
18 stopgap Su-30Ks in 2007.
Another contract had called for
local production at HAL Nasik of
140 Su-30MKIs and a subsequent
contract in 2007 added 40 more.
The primary contract for Indian
Su-30MKI production inked
on December 28, 2000, saw
division of the local production
process into four stages. At Stage
I, HAL Nasik performed detail
assembly and functional checks
on Su-30MKIs built at IAZ, while
Stage II included final assembly
from knocked-down kits. The
first Stage I aircraft was rolled
out in autumn 2004 and made
its maiden flight on October 1.
Stage III called for a gradual
increase in the locally produced
components, while Stage IV
introduced local production
using Indian-manufactured
parts and systems (with Russiansupplied materials, blanks and
sub-systems), including radars

and engines. The last set of


Russian materials, blanks and
sub-systems was delivered in
2015. The initial Su-30MKI
produced with Indian components
under Stage IV was flown for the
first time in November 2011. By
then HAL Nasik had delivered 99
Su-30MKIs under Stages I to III.
A contract covering 42 additional Su-30MKIs was agreed
in December 2012. Valued at
US$1.6bn, it brought IAF TVC
Flanker orders to 272 aircraft,
sufficient to equip 14 squadrons.
By January 2015, some 150
of the HAL Nasik-aircraft had
been handed over to the IAF,
although by late-2015 attrition
had accounted for six machines.
In early 2015, the 200-strong
IAF Su-30MKI fleet had an availability rate of 55%, enabling 110
mission-ready aircraft at any time.

New customers

The baseline Su-30MKI became


the starting point for three
highly customised configurations
featuring the same basic airframe,
powerplant and FBW system.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force
(RMAF) ordered the Su-30MKM
(M for Malaysia). Valued at
US$900m, the 18-aircraft contract

was signed in August 2003.


French avionics replaced the
majority of Israeli and Indian
items in the Su-30MKI, creating
a more advanced configuration
featuring the Thales CTH3022
wide-angle holographic HUD,
Thales IFF and compatibility with
the Thales Damocles targeting
pod and NAVFLIR night-time,
low-level navigation pod. The
mission computers and electronic
warfare system are Russian.
The Su-30MKM also introduced
an enhanced integrated defensive
aids suite comprising Saab
Avitronics MAW300 ultraviolet missile warning sensors and LWS350
laser warning sensors in addition
to the RWS-50 RWR. Compatibility
with the Cobham 754 buddyrefuelling pod is retained.
The initial Su-30MKM prototype
flew in May 2006, while the first
production example flew for the
first time at Irkutsk in spring 2007;
customer acceptance trials were
completed in May, 2007. The aircraft were delivered between June
2007 and August 2009, equipping
No. 11 Squadron at Gong Kedak.
The next TVC Flanker was
the Su-30MKA (A for Algeria),
designated Su-30MKI(A) in
Russia. Again based on the

Above: In August 2013 the Su-30SM entered service with the Lipetsk-based combat training centre and was used to teach
the initial cadre of instructor pilots and develop new combat tactics. Alexander Mladenov
Left: The Kazakhstan Air Defense Force became the first Su-30SM export customer, taking delivery of an initial batch of
four advanced Flankers in April 2015. Irkut

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IAF upgrade
plans
A MID-LIFE upgrade has been
conceived for existing Su-30MKIs
following initial negotiations
between the Russians and
Indians during June 2015,
although no contract has yet
been signed. It could include
integration of a variety of new
Indian hardware, including an
integrated defensive aids suite
with missile approach warning
receivers and Tarang Mk III RWR,
a new communications suite, data
link, wing tip-mounted jammer
and a newly added management
computer. New cockpit displays,
radar altimeter and navigation
aids are also envisaged, along
with faster computers capable
of handling mission-critical and
combat processing tasks.
Newly integrated weapons
would include the export version
of the RVV-MD and RVV-SD
AAMs, developed as successors
to the R-73E and RVV-AE,
respectively.
Tikhomirov has proposed an
N011M Bars upgrade that could
be conducted in two stages for a
phased increase in performance
and functionality. Stage I
would retain the PESA unit but
incorporate new software and
increased processing capability;
Stage II would add an active
electronically scanned array
(AESA), boosting operational
performance and reliability.
An ongoing programme is
enabling compatibility with the
BhraMos-A cruise missile, which
weighs 5,600lb (2,500kg) and
has a range of up to 162nm
(300km) when launched from
high altitude. The Su-30MKI can
carry up to three of the weapons
and the IAF intendeds to procure
200 missiles for US$1.1bn. In
addition to BhraMos-A, the Su30MKI could be made capable
of employing the air-launched
version of the Indian Nirbhay
subsonic cruise missile, using
the launch pylons developed for
BhraMos-A.
Two Su-30MKIs earmarked for
BhraMos-A test launches were
sent to Russia in January 2009
for the associated avionics and
structural upgrades. In May
2010, a programme to modify
40 Su-30MKIs for BhraMos-A
was agreed. It includes a new
mission computer, upgraded
radar and other avionics
changes. A significant delay
occurred, however, and the two
test aircraft did not begin flight
trials in India until after March
2015.

#338 MAY 2016 61

AIRCRAFT PROFILE Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker

Above: The Su-30SM was used during the Russian air campaign in Syria with four aircraft from the 120th SAP deployed to
Latakia air base in late September 2015. In addition to combat air patrols, they flew several bombing sorties, delivering
250kg free-fall bombs from medium altitude on pre-planned fixed targets. Russian MOD

Su-30MKI, the MKA replaces


some Israeli avionics with systems
largely sourced from Russia and
France, exceptions including the
Elbit SU967 HUD. The Frenchsupplied equipment represented
about 10% of the aircrafts price,
including the state-of-the-art
Thales Damocles targeting pod
and Areos reconnaissance pod.
Algeria ordered 28 Su-30MKAs
in 2006, in a contract worth
US$1.5bn, and deliveries were
reported between December
2007 and 2009. Two of these
aircraft, locally designation
Su-30MKA/MKR, are capable
of employing the Areos pod.
A US$0.9bn follow-on order
in 2010 included 16 more
Su-30MKAs, with deliveries
in 2011 and 2012. A third
order was placed in April 2015,

covering another 16 aircraft in


the same configuration. Valued
at around US$1bn, it should see
deliveries in 2016 and 2017.

Russian Su-30SM

In March 2012 the Russian


defence ministry ordered the
Su-30SM, which is set to become
the mainstay of the RuASF and
RNA tactical jet fleets. Sixty aircraft
were bought for the RuASF under
two separate contracts dated
March and December 2012, while
60 more are set to be ordered in
mid-2016, for delivery through
to 2019. The Su-30SM will
replace the entire first-generation
frontline MiG-29 fleet as well as a
proportion of the Su-27s under
an ambitious RuASF Frontal
Aviation fleet recapitalisation and
capability/growth programme.

The defence ministry placed its


initial order for the RNA in 2013,
with the first three aircraft taken on
strength in mid-2014. The Navy
will procure 50 to 57 Su-30SMs in
the long term, replacing its entire
fleet of tired Su-24 and Su-24M
tactical bombers, Su-24MR
reconnaissance aircraft, and Su-27
and MiG-31 fighter-interceptors.
The Su-30SM is a derivative of
the Su-30MKI/MKM with Russian
avionics replacing Indian and
Israeli systems, including the radar
processors, communications
suite, IFF and ejection seats. A
substantial modification has
also been made to the weapons
compatibility, while it employs a
modified OEPrNK30SM
optronic locator
and targeting
system. The

Su-30SM is capable of firing the


new RVV-SD BVR missile, with a
maximum range at high altitude
in a head-on engagement of
110km (60nm), and the highly
agile RVV-MD WVR AAM, a vastly
improved R-73 derivative.
The Bars-R radar equipping
the Su-30SM has enhanced
performance compared with the
radars of the export derivatives.
In its initial form, however, the
Su-30SM retained most if not
all of the French avionics used
on the Su-30MKM, including
the CTH3022 HUD and Sigma
95 navigation system. The
Su-30SM test programme was
completed in December 2013.
In its second sub-version, introduced in 2015, the Su-30SM was
stripped of its French
content after sanctions
imposed on Russia
during the Ukrainian
crisis of 2014

Right: One of the late-production


Su-30SMs for the 120th SAP between
sorties at its home base Domna in
south-eastern Siberia note the air-toair ordinance including R-27 and
R-73 missiles. Irkut

62 MAY 2016 #338

www.airforcesmonthly.com

The Iranian
Option

An Su-30SM from the 120th SAP deployed to Latakia air base escorts a Tu-160
Blackjack strategic bomber into Syrian airspace. Russian MoD

effectively resulted in an embargo


on the sale of defence equipment
to the country. The IKSh-1M from
the Su-35S replaced the CTH3022
HUD, for example, while the BINSSP2 hybrid inertial/satellite navigation system replaced Sigma 95.
The Khibiny-U electronic warfare
(EW) system was also added, with
an active radar jammer housed
in wing tip pods; it was seen for
the first time in October 2015 on
Su-30SMs operating in Syria.
The first two Su-30SMs assembled at IAZ were flown during
September 2012 and delivered to
the RuASF in December for a brief
test and evaluation programme
at the Akhtubinsk flight test
centre. In 2013, 14 Su-30SMs
were taken on strength and the
type inducted into service with the
Lipetsk-based combat training
centre, for initial instructor pilot
training and the development
of new combat tactics.

The first frontline unit, a


squadron of the Domna-based
120th Smeshanniy Aviatsionniy
Polk (SAP - composite aviation
regiment), re-equipped with the
new type in 2013, while a second
squadron of the same regiment
followed in 2014. Its fleet includes
24 aircraft, four of which deployed
to Syria in September 2015. They
mainly flew escort missions armed
with R-27R/T and R-73 AAMs,
but occasionally mounted attack
sorties armed with two OFAB250-270 free-fall bombs each.
In 2015, the 31st Guards IAP at
Millerovo began converting to the
Su-30SM with an initial five aircraft
and the remainder expected later
this year; it will receive 24 aircraft
for two squadrons. Also in 2015,
four Su-30SMs were delivered to
the 23rd Guards IAP at Dzemgi
in Russias Far East. The unit is
equipped with the single-seat TVC
Su-35S and uses the two-seat

Su-30SM for pilot conversion


and continuation training, as
well as proficiency check rides.
The first RNA Su-30SM unit, the
43rd Otdelniy Morskoi Shturmovoi
Aviatsionniy Polk (OMShAP independent attack naval aviation
regiment) based at Saki on the
Crimean Peninsula, took three jets
in 2014 and five more in 2015,
with another four expected this
year to complete its full strength of
12 aircraft. They are primarily for
use in the maritime attack role.
In May 2015, the Kazakhstan Air
and Air Defence Force became
the first international Su-30SM
operator, taking an initial batch
of four aircraft; a follow-on order
for six or seven more was placed
in December. In the long-term
Kazakhstan intends to purchase 24.
Belarus is the next ex-Soviet state
expected to purchase the Su-30SM,
but not until after 2020 due
afm
to ongoing funding issues.

Above: The TVC family of Su-30s use the N011M Bars multi-role radar with the
1,000mm passive electronically-scanned array antenna, it boasts expanded coverage thanks to the extra mechanical steering in azimuth and elevation. Irkut

www.airforcesdaily.com

THE IRANIAN defence ministry


first revealed its intension to procure the Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker in
December 2014 and negotiations
with Russia began the following
month.
On August 25, 2015, an Iranian
delegation visited the MAKS
air show for the first time. The
group, comprising defence and
government representatives,
including Vice President Sorena
Sattari, and Dr Manuchehr Manteghi (CEO of Iran Aviation Industries Organization), met Russias
President Putin to discuss the
plan to order Su-30SMs and
establish a licensed manufacturing capability in Iran.
The Russians proposed the
Su-30SME specifically for export
to Iran. It includes all the same
systems found on the Su-30SM,
but has less capable self-defence
equipment. The Islamic Republic
of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) has an
urgent need for an initial 48
aircraft for delivery from 2018
so it can withdraw the 49 F-4D/E
Phantom IIs remaining in service.
There is an option for the Iranian
Aircraft Manufacturing Industries
(IAMI) to assemble another 112
examples under licence by 2030.
The Iranian Minister of Defence
Brigadier General Hossein
Dehghan led a delegation to
Moscow for official negotiations
with Putin and the Russian
defence minister Sergei Shoigu
on February 16, 2016. Talks
continued when the Russian minister visited Tehran the following
week. Although the mission was
primarily to work through delivery issues with a S-300PMU-2
surface-to-air missile system,
Iranian officials also emphasised
the requirement for licensed Su30SME production.
The ideal would be for IAMI to
build 70% of every Su-30SME
produced in-country, avoiding
the issues with technical and
maintenance support that the
IRIAF suffered with its MiG-29
and Su-24 fleets in the 1990s
and 2000s.
United Nations arms sanctions
against Iran are scheduled to be
lifted in 2021. However, both
parties have announced that
the first Su-30 contract will be
signed this summer. Should the
US foil such plans, however, the
IRIAF has identified a secondary
option. Negotiations for a J-10S
purchase from China began in
2015 and the types acquisition
remains a possibility. Babak
Taghvaee

#338 MAY 2016 63