Sukhoi Su-30

Russian Air Force Su-30 over Russia
Role Multirole fighter[1]
Manufacturer KnAAPO, Irkut Corporation
Designer Sukhoi
First flight 31 December 1989
Introduction 1996
Status In service
Primary users People's Liberation Army Air Force
Indian Air Force
Vietnam People's Air Force
Russian Air Force
Produced 1992–present
Number built 540+[2][3][4]
Unit cost
Su-30MK2: US$37.5 million in 2012[5]
Developed from Sukhoi Su-27
Variants Sukhoi Su-30MKI
Sukhoi Su-30MKK
Sukhoi Su-30MKM

The Sukhoi Su-30 (Cyrillic: Сухой Су-30; NATO reporting name: Flanker-C) is a twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft developed 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, only the Su-27, Su-30, Su-34 and Su-35 have been ordered into serial production by the Defense Ministry. All the others, such as Su-37, were prototypes. 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 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.[6]

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 version.


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.[7]

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 and long-range missions require 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.[8]


Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30LL flying along the runway at Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport less than 1 metre off the ground

The Su-30 is a multirole fighter. It has a two-seat cockpit with an airbrake behind the canopy.

Flight characteristics

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.[9]


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.[10][11]


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.

Operational history


Several Su-30SMs were sent to Syria in the Russian military intervention in Syria to escort and provide target illumination for bombers that launch airstrikes against Islamist rebel groups.[12][13] Su-30SM fighters were reportedly delivered to the Bassel Al-Assad International Airport in Latakia, Syria in September 2015. At least 4 Su-30SM fighters were spotted in a satellite photo.[14] In late December 2015, there were 16 Su-30SMs at Khmeimim airbase.[15]

Potential operators

Thailand formally requested information for the possible acquisition of the Su-30MK/MK2. However, the Saab Gripen was procured instead.[16]

In February 2016, Russia and Belarus concluded a preliminary agreement that would see the export of an undisclosed number of Su-30s to Belarus.[17]

The Iran defense minister announced in February 2016 of its country intention to buy an undisclosed number of the Su-30SM fighters.[18]

In January 2016, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan mentioned that Russia had discussed the possibility of supplying Su-30 fighters to Armenia during a four-day Russian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on bilateral military-technical cooperation.[19]


Indian Air Force Su-30MKI
Royal Malaysian Air Force Su-30MKM
Algerian Air Force Su-30MKA refuelled by Il-78 Midas
Sukhoi Su-30MK2 of 935 Fighter - Vietnam People's Air Force
Commercial (export) version of the basic Su-30.
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.[20]
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.[21]
Commercial version of Su-30M first revealed in 1993. Export versions include navigation and communication equipment from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.[22]
A version from manufacturer KnAAPO based on the Su-30MK2. The Russian Air Force placed an initial order for the variant in 2009. Factory tests were completed in September 2010.[23][24][25] Twenty aircraft have been ordered; 4 in 2009 and 16 in 2012.[26] 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.[26] They are mostly to be used as combat training aircraft for upgraded Su-27SM fighters.
MKI stands for "Modernizirovannyi, Kommercheskiy, Indiski" meaning "Modernized, Commercial, Indian". Jointly-developed with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Air Force. Includes thrust vectoring control (TVC) and canards. Equipped with a multinational avionics complex sourced from Russia, India, France and Israel.[27]
Export version for China. MKK stands for Modernizirovannyi, Kommercheskiy, Kitayski or "Modernized, Commercial, China".[28] Its NATO codename is 'Flanker-G'.
A derivative of the India-Russian Su-30MKI,[29] 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)[30] 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.[31]
A version of the Su-30MKI, except with French and Russian avionics for Algeria.[32]
A specialised version of the thrust-vectoring Su-30MKI and MKM variants for the Russian military, produced by the Irkut Corporation.[33][34] Russia's Defence Ministry was impressed with the MKI's performance envelope and ordered 30 Su-30SMs, a localised version of Su-30MKI, for the Russian Air Force.[35] The Su-30SM is considered as 4+ gen jet fighter.[36][37][38][39][40][41] The new version has been upgraded based on Russian military requirements for radar, radio communications systems, friend-or-foe identification system, ejection seats, weapons, and other aircraft systems.[42][43] The aircraft is equipped with the Bars-R radar and the wide-angle HUD.[34][43][44][45][46] A contract for 60 of the multirole fighter was signed in March 2012 with delivery by 2016.[47] On 21 September 2012 Su-30SM performed its maiden flight.[48] The export version, the SU-30SME was unveiled at the Singapore Airshow 2016.[49]
Export version for Venezuela.
Su-30MK2 variant for Vietnam with minor modifications.[50]


Map with Sukhoi Su-30 operators in blue
Indonesian Air Force Su-30
Venezuelan Air Force Su-30MK2
Uganda People's Defence Force Air Wing Su-30MK2
 People's Republic of China
 Russian Federation

Specifications (Su-27PU/Su-30)

Data from KNAAPO,[10] Sukhoi,[11] Gordon and Davison.[75]

General characteristics



Su-30MK's combat load is mounted on 12 hardpoints: 2 wingtip AAM launch rails, 3 pylons under each wing, 1 pylon under each engine nacelle, and 2 pylons in tandem in the "arch" between the engines. All versions can carry up to 8 tonnes of external stores.

Incidents and accidents

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


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Further reading

External links

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