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Sukhoi Su-30 (Flanker-C)

Two-Seat, Twin-Engine Air Superiority / Strike Fighter Aircraft

The Russian Sukhoi Su-30 has seen an uptick in sales as its global operators continue to grow.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 2/20/2019
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Year: 1996
Status: Active, In-Service
Manufacturer(s): Sukhoi Design Bureau - Russia
Production: 615
Capabilities: Fighter; Ground Attack;
Crew: 2
Length: 71.95 ft (21.93 m)
Width: 48.23 ft (14.7 m)
Height: 20.87 ft (6.36 m)
Weight (Empty): 39,022 lb (17,700 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 76,059 lb (34,500 kg)
Power: 2 x Saturn AL-31FL turbofan engines with afterburner developing 27,560 lb thrust each (16,750lb thrust dry).
Speed: 1,317 mph (2,120 kph; 1,145 kts)
Ceiling: 56,759 feet (17,300 m; 10.75 miles)
Range: 1,864 miles (3,000 km; 1,620 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 45,275 ft/min (13,800 m/min)
Operators: Algeria; Angola; Belarus; China; India; Indonesia; Kazakhstan; Malaysia; Myanmar (ordered); Russia; Uganda; Venezuela; Vietnam
The Sukhoi Su-30 was initially developed as a further modification to the existing Su-27 "Flanker" series but ended as its own, all-new mark. The aircraft encompasses a multi-mission design frame based on the Su-27 though incorporated a second crewman (seated in tandem), improved datalinking and increased operational endurance. Production of this series model began in 1992 and is ongoing as of this writing (2017). Some 540 have been produced to date with operators (beyond Russia) now including Algeria, Angola, China, Belarus, India, Indonesia, Kazahkstan, Malaysia, Uganda, Venezuela and Vietnam - making this combat platform an important product in the Sukhoi fighter lineup.

The Su-27 family of large fighters makes up the backbone of the Russian Air Force and Navy Aviation fleets. It has proven itself to be a highly versatile, high performance combat platform that has wowed generations of onlookers at air shows and proven popular with former Soviet states and allies worldwide. Developments like the Su-30, Su-34 and Su-35 only serve to keep the line strong and the product a viable instrument over the modern battlefield.

From development beginning in 1986, a first-flight in prototype form (based on the two-seat Su-27PU interceptor) was recorded on December 31st, 1989. However it was not until 1996 that the product was formally introduced into service for 1991 saw the formal end of the Soviet Empire of the Cold War (1947-1991).

At its core, the Su-30 represents a powerful evolution of the original Su-27 Flanker. It improves on the original's operational range and carries with it a refined air-to-air / air-to-surface all-weather attack quality. In this way, the same platform can be used to undertake both air space denial and ground strike missions as needed as it has a broadened support for various munitions types and its onboard systems can support both air and ground attacks. The general form and function of the Su-27 are retained but the mission set of the Su-30 is expanded considerably.

Power is from 2 x Saturn AL-31F turbofan engines set within the lower body of the aircraft. These are fed through side-mounted intakes and exhausted at the rear as normal. Additionally the engines offer a reheat capability, better known as afterburner, which allows for short bursts of power and, therefore, short bursts of speed. The aircraft is capable of reaching speeds of Mach 2.0 (1,300+ mph) out to a range (on internal fuel) of 1,850 miles. Its service ceiling is 56,800 feet and rate-of-climb is 56,800 feet-per-minute. Because of an integral refueling probe, the aircraft can expand its patrol range / mission endurance window up to 10 hours. Certain hardpoints under the aircraft are also plumbed for jettisonable fuel tanks. The second crewmember also alleviates crew fatigue on longer sorties.

The Su-30 carries the standard 30mm GSh-301 series automatic cannon and 150 projectiles are afforded it. Externally there are no fewer than twelve hardpoints and these support the full gamut of Russian munitions included air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles (including anti-ship and anti-radiation), rocket pods, general purpose conventional drop bombs and precision laser-guided bombs. The OEPS-27 forms the electro-optical targeting system of the aircraft. The nose houses a long-ranged phased-array Bars planar radar system.

With all this the Su-30 compares favorably to the old Boeing F-15 Strike Eagle strike fighter, itself based on an air superiority original design.

The Su-30 began as a modernized Su-27UB and five squadrons were set up under the Russia Air Defense Forces branch. The export form became the Su-30K which ended up in India. The Su-30KI became a proposed Su-30 upgrade to existing Russian Air Force Su-27UB and original Su-30 fighters as well as the export-minded Su-30Ks. The upgrade program, and the similarly-minded Si-30KN project, fell to naught. The Su-30MK is another export model, this time fielding Indian avionics.

The Su-30MKI introduced thrust-vectoring engine nozzles and forward canards for much improved maneuverability and an internationally-originated avionics set. This product was jointly undertaken by Sukhoi and Hindustan of India. The Su-30MKA followed for customer Algeria but with French and Russian avionics. The Su-30MKM as based in the Su-30MKI and modified to suit Malaysian requirements. The Su-30SM was based on the Su-30MKI model and produced for Russia by Irkut as an advanced Su-30 with modernized equipment. The Su-30SME designator is used to market the Su-30SM abroad.

The Su-30MKK ("Flanker-G") was sold to China as was the modernized form some time later as the Su-30MK2. Indonesia and Uganda also took delivery of the type. The Su-30MK2V was an Su-MK2 variant slightly revised for sale to Vietnam. The Su-30MKV was an export version of the Su-30MK2 and sold to Venezuela. The Su-30MK2 forms the basis for the Su-30M2 and these have been taken into inventory by the Russian Air Force.

Since introduction into Russian service, the Su-30 has been deployed over Syria in its ongoing Civil War. The series remains high on the list for several potential operators though it has fallen to Western competition in some circles.

The Su-30SM model serves both the Russian Air Force and Navy services. It is based in the Su-30MKI and Su-30MKM variants. A first-flight was recorded on September 21st, 2012 and service introduction arrived on January 12th, 2018. These are powered by the AL31-FP turbofan engine.

Program Updates

January 2018 - Mayanmar has signed a deal to procure six Su-30 fighter aircraft.

May 2018 - Kazakhstan has secured a deal to receive an additional eight Russian Su-30SM multirole fighters to strengthen its existing stock. Deliveries are set to conclude in 2020. The Kazakhstan Air Force has, on-hand, four such aircraft which they have actively operated since 2015.

June 2018 - Talks are underway between India and Russia on a mid-life upgrade project concerning some 44 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters in service with the Indian Air Force (IAF).

September 2018 - There are standardization plans by the Russian military (Air Force and Navy) to re-engine its existing fleet of Su-30SM twin-seat multi-role fighters, replacing the current AL-31FP turbofans with up-rated 31,967lb afterburning AL-41F-1S (Item 117S) turbofans. The AL-41F series also powers the advanced Su-35S line for the service.

February 2019 - Indian production of Su-30MKI fighters is scheduled to be completed in 2020 after some 222 aircraft would have been built.


1 x 30mm GSh-30-1 internal cannon.

External ordnance can be any combination of the following:

R-27ER1 (AA-10C) "Alamo" medium-range air-to-air missiles, R-27ET1 (AA-10D) air-to-air missiles, R-73E (AA-11) airoto-air missiles, R77 RVV-AE (AA-12) air-to-air missiles, Kh-31P anti-radiation air-to-surface missiles, Kh-31A anti-radiation air-to-surface missiles, Kh-29T/L laser-guided missiles, Kh-59ME air-to-surface missiles and others.

KAB-500KR bombs, KAB-1500KR bombs, FAB-500T bombs, OFAB-250-270 bombs and others.

Also jettisonable fuel tanks.

Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of a medium-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-radar/anti-radiation missile
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft guided bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank

Variants / Models

• Su-27PU - Designation for two-seat, long-range interceptor; redesignated as Su-30 series; based on Su-27UB two-seat trainer.
• Su-30 - Base Series Designation; developmental designation for new Su-30 design with canard wings added; in-flight refueling probe.
• Su-30K - Export Variant Designation of Su-30 base model.
• Su-30KI - Single-Seat Variant; developed as an Su-27S upgrade and Indonesian export order model.
• Su-30KN - Standardized Su-30 upgrade from Su-27UB, Su-30 and Su-30K models.
• Su-30M - Upgraded Su-27PU as multi-role fighter.
• Su-30MK - Export Variant of Su-30M
• Su-30M2 - Upgraded Su-30MK; wing canards added; thrust vectoring.
• Su-30MKI - Modernized Flanker for India; revised avionics; canard implementation; thrust vectoring.
• Su-30MKK - Chinese Export Variant.
• Su-30MKM - Based on Su-30MKI model; revised avionics; for Malaysian sale.
• Su-30MKV - Venezuelan Export Variant; similar to Su-30MK2.
• Su-30MK2 - Su-30MKK model with upgraded electronics; anti-ship missile provisions.
• Su-30MK2V - Vietnamese Export Model.
• Su-30MK3 - Su-30MKK model fitted with Zhuk MSE radar system; provision for Kh-59MK anti-ship missiles.
• Su-30SM - Variant of Su-30MKI/MKM; Russian Air Force and Navy model; production by Irkut Corporation; first-flight September 2012; adopted January 2018.
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