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  • 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.

     Updated: 6/18/2017; 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.

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    Sukhoi Su-17M4 (Fitter-K) Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1970
    Type: Ground Attack / Strike Fighter Aircraft
    National Origin: Soviet Union
    Manufacturer(s): Sukhoi - Soviet Union / Russia
    Production Total: 2,867

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 62.40 feet (19.02 meters)
    Width: 44.88 feet (13.68 meters)
    Height: 16.80 feet (5.12 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 26,808 lb (12,160 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 42,990 lb (19,500 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Lyulka AL-21F-3 turbojet engine developing 24,802 lb of thrust.

    Maximum Speed: 718 mph (1,155 kph; 624 knots)
    Maximum Range: 889 miles (1,430 km)
    Service Ceiling: 49,869 feet (15,200 meters; 9.44 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 45,275 feet-per-minute (13,800 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    2 x 30mm Nudelman-Rikhter NR-30 cannons in leading edge wing roots.

    10 to 12 hardpoints for up to 9,000lbs of mixed ordnance including conventional drop bombs, napalm, drag chute bombs, runway-defeating bombs, TV/Laser-guided bombs, rocket pods, gun pods, air-to-surface missiles and air-to-air missiles.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Armenia; Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bulgaria; Czech Republic; Czechoslovakia; East Germany; Egypt; Germany; Hungary; Iraq; Iran; Libya; North Korea; Peru; Poland; Russia; Slovakia; Soviet Union; Syria; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan; Vietnam; Yemen

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    Su-7 (Fitter-A) - Base Fixed-Wing Interceptor Model on which the Su-17 is based on.

    Su-7IG/ S-22I (Fitter-B) - Based on the Su-7BM production model; used in testing the swing-wing component.

    Su-17 (Fitter-B) - Base production model; limited production; extended fuselage based on the Su-7U two-seat trainer; revised airframe with dorsal fuselage spine; increased internal fuel capacity; fitted with Lyulka AL-7F-1 engine; production from 1969 to 1973.

    Su-17K (Fitter-B) - Egyptian Export Model Designation of the base Su-17.

    Su-17M (Fitter-C) - Initial Production Model of note; fitted with Lyulka AL-21F-3 engine; revised nav-attack system; implementation of dual pitot vanes as well as AoA vane; brake parachute; positional shock cone; production from 1972 to 1975.

    Su-20 (Fitter-C) - Export Designation of Su-17M production model.

    Su-17M-28 - Developmental Airframe for testing AS-9 "Kyle" anti-radar missile.

    Su-17MKG - Developmental Airframe for testing AS-10 "Karen" and AS-14 "Kedge" air-to-surface missiles.

    Su-17R (Fitter-C) - Limited Production Reconnaissance Variant of the Su-17M production model.

    Su-20R (Fitter-C) - Export Designation of Su-17R reconnaissance model.

    Su-17M2 (Fitter-D) - Redesigned and extended nose assembly; undernose Doppler radar; laser rangefinder; improved and expanded avionics; production from 1974 to 1977.

    Su-17M2D (Fitter-D) - Fitted with Tumansky R-29BS-300 series engine of 25,335lbf; revised rear fuselage; production from 1977 to 1978.

    Su-22 / S-32M2K (Fitter-F) - Export Designation of Su-17M2D production model.

    Su-17UM / S-52U (Fitter-E) - Two -Seat Conversion Trainer; based on the Su-17M2 production model; revised deeper fuselage; deletion of internal fuel capacity; portside cannon removed; enlarged vertical tail fin for improved longitudinal control at high AoA; production from 1976 to 1978.

    Su-22U - Export Model Designation of Su-17UM two-seat trainer; fitted with Tumansky R-29 series engine.

    Su-17M3 / S-52 (Fitter-H) - Additional fuel and avionics equipment; based on two-seat trainer sans the second cockpit; improved range; internal Doppler radar system; launch rails installed for AA-2 and AA-8 missiles; production from 1976 to 1981.

    Su-22M / S-52K (Fitter-J) - Export Model Designation of the Su-17M3; fitted with Tumansky R-29 series engine; downgraded avionics.

    Su-22M3 / S-52MK (Fitter-J) - Export Model Designation of Su-17M3 with Soviet Su-17M3 avionics in place.

    Su-17UM3 / S-52UM3 (Fitter-G) - Improved Two-Seat Trainer; Su-17M3 avionics; production from 1978 to 1982.

    Su-22UM3 (Fitter-G) - Export Model Designation of Su-17UM3 trainer; fitted with Tumansky R-29 engine.

    Su-22UM3K (Fitter-G) - Export Model Designation of Su-17UM3 trainer; fitted with Lyulka AL-21 engine.

    Su-17M4 - Upgraded avionics suite; improved laser rangefinder; Sirena radar-warning receiver; fuselage and dorsal air inlets for improved engine cooling; fixed shock cone; TV-guided ordnance compatibility; production from 1981 to 1988.

    Su-22M4 / S-54K - Export Model Designation of Su-17M4 production model; production from 1983 to 1990.

    Su-22M5 - Modernized Fitters with French/Russian-based equipment and systems; HOTAS; glass cockpit; improved avionics suite; Phazotron/Thomson-CSF radar system; sans laser rangefinder.