Sukhoi Su-17 / Su-20 / Su-22 (Fitter) Ground Attack / Strike Fighter Aircraft
The Soviet Sukhoi Su-17 Fitter - and its export derivatives, the Su-20 and Su-22 - were swing-wing developments of the original Su-7 Fitter fixed-wing design.
Authored By Captain Jack; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Mach 2-capable Sukhoi Su-17 "Fitter" was a further development of the successful Su-7 "Fitter-A" fighter/fighter-bomber family line detailed elsewhere on this site. The aircraft incorporated a partial variable geometry wing ("swing wing") system and improved upon the former's take-off and landing attributes as well as performance at the low-level as required of it during ground attack runs. The swing-wing element added to the aircraft's stability at low-speeds and altitudes while improving overall range and ordnance loads by featuring large-area fixed wing "gloves". Beyond its new wing arrangement, the Su-17 also differed from its Su-7 origins in that it featured a newly-designed canopy and nose assembly as well as an identifiable raised fuselage spine, giving the new aircraft a more stout appearance than the pencil-thin Fitter-A. The type served the Soviet Union well and was heavily exported to Warsaw Pact nations and trusted Third World allies alike. The Su-17 was developed into the export Su-20 and Su-22 Fitter models of varying avionics, engines and weapons. In all, some 2,867 Su-17/Su-20/Su-22 Fitters were produced with almost half of these made available to Soviet export customers. Over a dozen nations took delivery of the type, making it a staple fighter-bomber throughout the Cold War. Some air forces continue to fly the aircraft - nearly forty years after it was introduced.
Development - Fitter-B
The Su-7 (NATO codename of "Fitter-A") was a capable aircraft in its own right. However, there were glaring deficiencies in its operational range - no thanks to a thirsty powerplant - and ordnance-carrying capabilities. Sukhoi and Soviet authorities sought other improvements that would make the Fitter series a much more capable and versatile battlefield component. As such, a Su-7BM production model served as the demonstrator for the testing of a new swing-wing variable geometry system development. The new wing would essentially be made up of two parts - a fixed wing root/wing glove and the positional swing-wing portion making up half of the wing (at about mid-wing span). The new prototype became the Su-7IG ("IG" for "Izmenyaemaya Geometriya", also internal designation of "S-22I"). First flight was achieved on August 2nd, 1966. The working prototype/technology demonstrator showed enough promise during this testing phase, improving on both field performance and range of the Su-7, that it was selected for production.