|Su-24M of the Russian Air Force in May 2009|
|Role||All-weather attack aircraft|
|Designer||Ye. S. Felsner from 1985 – L.A. Logvinov|
|First flight||T-6: 2 July 1967
T-6-2I: 17 January 1970
|Primary users||Russian Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force
Kazakh Air Force
Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
|Number built||Approximately 1,400|
The Sukhoi Su-24 (NATO reporting name: Fencer) is a supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft developed in the Soviet Union. This variable-sweep wing, twin-engined side-by-side two-seater carried the USSR's first integrated digital navigation/attack system. It remains in service with former Soviet air forces and various air forces to which it was exported.
- 1 Development
- 2 Design
- 3 Operational history
- 4 Variants
- 5 Operators
- 6 Specifications (Su-24MK)
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
One of the conditions for accepting Sukhoi Su-7B into service in 1961 was the requirement for Sukhoi to develop an all-weather variant capable of precision air strikes. Preliminary investigations with S-28 and S-32 aircraft revealed that the basic Su-7 design was too small to contain all the avionics required for the mission. OKB-794 was tasked with developing an advanced nav/attack system, codenamed Puma, which would be at the core of the new aircraft. That same year, the United States proposal for their new all-weather strike fighter would be the TFX. The resulting F-111 would introduce a variable-geometry wing for greatly increased payload, range, and low-level penetration capabilities.
In 1962–1963, Sukhoi initially set out to build an aircraft without the complexity of moving wings like the F-111.  It designed and built a mockup of S-6, a delta wing aircraft powered by two Tumansky R-21F-300 turbojet engines and with a crew of two in a tandem arrangement. The mockup was inspected but no further work was ordered due to lack of progress on the Puma hardware.
In 1964, Sukhoi started work on S-58M. The aircraft was supposed to represent a modification of the Sukhoi Su-15 interceptor (factory designation S-58). In the meantime, revised Soviet Air Force requirements called for a low-altitude strike aircraft with STOL capability. A key feature was the ability to cruise at supersonic speeds at low altitude for extended periods of time in order to traverse enemy air defenses. To achieve this, the design included two Tumansky R-27F-300 afterburning turbojets for cruise and four Kolesov RD-36-35 turbojets for STOL performance. Side-by-side seating for the crew was implemented since the large Orion radar antennas required a large frontal cross-section. To test the six-engine scheme, the first Su-15 prototype was converted into S-58VD flying laboratory which operated in 1966–1969.
The aircraft was officially sanctioned on 24 August 1965 under the internal codename T-6. The first prototype, T-6-1 was completed in May 1967 and flew on 2 July with V.S. Ilyushin at the controls. The initial flights were performed without the four lift engines, which were installed in October 1967. At the same time, R-27s were replaced with Lyulka AL-21Fs. STOL tests confirmed the data from S-58VD that short-field performance was achieved at the cost of significant loss of flight distance as the lift engines occupied space normally reserved for fuel, loss of under-fuselage hardpoints, and instability during transition from STOL to conventional flight. So the six-engine approach was abandoned.
By 1967, the F-111 had entered service and demonstrated the practical advantages and solutions to the technical problems of a swing-wing design. On 7 August 1968, the OKB was officially tasked with investigating a variable geometry wing for the T-6. The resulting T-6-2I first flew on 17 January 1970 with Ilyushin at the controls. The subsequent government trials lasted until 1974, dictated by the complexity of the on-board systems. The day or night and all-weather capability was achieved – for the first time in Soviet tactical attack aircraft – thanks to the Puma nav/attack system consisting of two Orion-A superimposed radar scanners for nav/attack, a dedicated Relyef terrain clearance radar to provide automatic control of flights at low and extremely low altitudes, and Orbita-10-58 onboard computer. The crew was equipped with zero-zero Zvezda K-36D ejection seats, allowing the pilots to bail out at any altitude and flight speed, including during takeoff and landing. The resulting design was slightly smaller and shorter ranged than the F-111 with a range of 3000 km (about 2000 miles) and payload of 8000 kg (about 18,000 lb).
The first production aircraft flew on 31 December 1971 with V.T. Vylomov at the controls, and on 4 February 1975, T-6 was formally accepted into service as the Su-24. About 1,400 Su-24s were produced.
Surviving Su-24M models have gone through a life-extension and updating program, with GLONASS, upgraded cockpit with multi-function displays (MFDs), HUD, digital moving-map generator, Shchel helmet-mounted sights, and provision for the latest guided weapons, including R-73 (AA-11 'Archer') air-to-air missiles. It is unclear if the Su-24MR and Su-24MP will receive the cockpit and navigation upgrades. The upgraded aircraft are designated Su-24M2.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2010)|
The Su-24 has a shoulder-mounted variable geometry wing outboard of a relatively small fixed wing glove, swept at 69°. The wing has four sweep settings: 16° for take-off and landing, 35° and 45° for cruise at different altitudes, and 69° for minimum aspect ratio and wing area in low-level dashes. The variable geometry wing provides excellent STOL performance, allowing a landing speed of 230 km/h (143 mph), even lower than the Sukhoi Su-17 despite substantially greater take-off weight. Its high wing loading provides a stable low-level ride and minimal gust response.
The Su-24 has two Saturn/Lyulka AL-21F-3A afterburning turbojet engines with 109.8 kN (24,700 lbf) thrust each, fed with air from two rectangular side mounted intakes with splitter plates/boundary-layer diverters.
In early Su-24 ("Fencer A" according to NATO) aircraft these intakes had variable ramps, allowing a maximum speed of 2,320 km/h (1,440 mph), Mach 2.18, at altitude and a ceiling of some 17,500 m (57,400 ft). Because the Su-24 is used almost exclusively for low-level missions, the actuators for the variable intakes were deleted to reduce weight and maintenance. This has no effect on low-level performance, but absolute maximum speed and altitude are cut to Mach 1.35 and 11,000 m (36,100 ft). The earliest Su-24 had a box-like rear fuselage, which was shortly changed in production to a rear exhaust shroud more closely shaped around the engines in order to reduce drag. The revised aircraft also gained three side-by-side antenna fairings in the nose, a repositioned braking chute, and a new ram-air inlet at the base of the tail fin. The revised aircraft were dubbed "Fencer-B" by NATO, but did not merit a new Soviet designation.
The Su-24's fixed armament is a single fast-firing GSh-6-23 cannon with 500 rounds of ammunition, mounted in the fuselage underside. The gun is covered with an eyelid shutter when not in use. The warload includes various nuclear weapons. Two or four R-60 (NATO AA-8 'Aphid') infrared missiles are usually carried for self-defense by the Su-24M/24MK.
Initial Su-24s had basic electronic countermeasures (ECM) equipment, with many Su-24s limited to the old Sirena radar-warning receiver with no integral jamming system. Later-production Su-24s had more comprehensive radar warning, missile-launch warning, and active ECM equipment, with triangular antennas on the sides of the intakes and the tip of the vertical fin. This earned the NATO designation "Fencer-C", although again it did not have a separate Soviet designation. Some "Fencer-C" and later Su-24M ("Fencer-D" by NATO) have large wing fence/pylons on the wing glove portion with integral chaff/flare dispensers; others have such launchers scabbed onto either side of the tail fin.
Substantial numbers of ex-Soviet Su-24s remain in service with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine. In 2008, roughly 415 were in service with Russian forces, split 321 with the Russian Air Force and 94 with the Russian Navy.
On 19 December 2008, a Su-24M crashed near the southwest Russian city of Voronezh. The pilots ejected. Preliminary information indicates the crash was caused by a malfunction in the aircraft's flight control system.
On 13 February 2012, a Su-24 crashed in Kurgan region. Both pilots ejected safely. Engine failure was stated as the probable cause of the crash.
On 30 October 2012, a Su-24M crashed in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. During the flight the nose cone fractured. After unsuccessfully attempting an emergency landing, the crew of two flew to open territory and safely ejected. A regional government website stated that emergency was result of aircraft control system failure. Flights of Su-24 were suspended at the Shagol base.
Soviet War in Afghanistan
The Soviets used some Su-24s in Afghanistan starting from 1984.
Operation Desert Storm
During Operation Desert Storm, the Iraqi Air Force evacuated 24 of its 30 Su-24MKs to Iran. Another five were destroyed on the ground, while the sole survivor remained in service after the war.
Tajik civil war
A Russian source and Human Rights Watch reported the use of Fencers during the 1992–97 Tajik civil war by the Uzbek Air Force or Tajikistan, against Islamist forces operating from Afghanistan as part of a wider air campaign in support of the embattled Tajikistan government. An Su-24M was reported as shot down on 3 May 1993 with an FIM-92 Stinger MANPADS fired by fundamentalists. Both Russian pilots were rescued.
Tajikistan protested over the Uzbek government's alleged August 1999 strike against Islamist militants in areas close to two mountain villages in the Jirgital district that, even if it didn't produce human casualties, killed 100 head of livestock and set ablaze several crop fields. Uzbekistan denied the accusations.
Second Chechen War
Su-24s were used in combat during the Second Chechen War performing bombing and reconnaissance missions. Up to four were lost, one due to hostile fire.
On 4 October 1999, a Su-24 was shot down by a SAM while searching for the crash site of a downed Su-25. The pilot was killed while the navigator was taken prisoner.
2008 South Ossetia War
In August 2008, a low intensity conflict in the breakaway Georgian regions of Ossetia and Abkhazia, escalated to open war between Russia and Georgia. Russian Su-24s were heavily involved in bombing strikes and reconnaissance flights over Georgia.
Libyan civil war
During the 2011 Libyan civil war, on 5 March 2011, rebels shot down a Libyan Air Force Su-24MK during fighting around Ra's Lanuf with a ZU-23-2 antiaircraft gun. Both pilots died. A BBC reporter was on the scene soon after the event and filmed an aircraft part at the crash site showing the emblem of the 1124th squadron, flying the Su-24MK.
Syrian civil war
During the escalation of the Syrian Civil War, starting in November 2012, around four months after the first air raids from different fixed wing aircraft started, and after 18 months since the beginning, the first Su-24 medium bombers were filmed dropping their heavy payload on the rebels. The first and to date only Su-24 loss, an upgraded MK2 version, was downed by an Igla surface-to-air missile fired by the insurgency already on 28 November near the town Darat Izza in the Aleppo Governorate. One of the pilots, Col. Ziad Daud Ali, was injured and was filmed being taken to a rebel field hospital.
Furthermore, Syrian Fencers have reportedly been involved in near-encounters with NATO warplanes. The first of such incidents occurred in early September 2013, when Syrian Fencers of the 819th Squadron (launched from Tiyas airbase) flew low over the Mediterranean and approached the 14-mile air exclusion zone surrounding the British airbase in Akrotiri, Cyprus. The jets turned back before reaching the area due to two RAF Eurofighter Typhoons being scrambled to intercept them. Turkey also sent two F-16s. The Fencers were possibly testing the air defenses of the base (and their reaction time) in preparation for a possible military strike by the U.S, the United Kingdom and France in the aftermath of the chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, Damascus allegedly committed by the Syrian government.
2014 Ukrainian Uprising
On 2 July 2014, one Ukrainian Air Force Su-24 was damaged by a rebel fired MANPADS, one of the engines was damaged, but the crew managed to return to base and land. During landing a new fire started but it was extinguished by the ground crew.
Initially identified as a Su-25, on 20 August 2014 a Ukrainian Su-24M was shot down by pro-Russian rebels in the Luhansk region and confirmed by Ukrainian authorities who reported that the pilots ejected safely and were recovered. On 21 August 2014, the downed plane was identified as a Su-24M.
- Source: Sukhoi
- An early project in the gestation of the Su-24, like a meld of the Su-7 and Su-15.
- The initial prototype with cropped delta wings and 4 RD-36-35 lift engines in the fuselage.
- T6-2I / T6-3I / T6-4I
- Prototypes for the variable geometry Su-24 production aircraft.
- The first production version, the armaments include Kh-23 and Kh-28 type air-to-ground guided missiles, together with R-55 type air-to-air guided missiles. Manufactured 1971–1983.
- Su-24M ('Fencer-D')
- Work on upgrading the Su-24 was started in 1971, and included the addition of inflight refueling and expansion of attack capabilities with even more payload options. T-6M-8 prototype first flew on 29 June 1977, and the first production Su-24M flew on 20 June 1979. The aircraft was accepted into service in 1983. Su-24M has a 0.76 m (30 in) longer fuselage section forward of the cockpit, adding a retractable refueling probe, and a reshaped, shorter radome for the attack radar. It can be identified by the single nose probe in place of the three-part probe of earlier aircraft. A new PNS-24M inertial navigation system and digital computer were also added. A Kaira-24 laser designator/TV-optical quantum system (similar to the American Pave Tack) was fitted in a bulge in the port side of the lower fuselage, as well as Tekon track and search system (in pod), for compatibility with guided weapons, including 500 and 1,500kg laser-guided bombs and TV-guided bombs, and laser/TV-guided missiles Kh-25 and Kh-29L/T, anti-radar missiles Kh-58 and Kh-14 (AS-12 'Kegler') and Kh-59 (AS-13 'Kingbolt')/Kh-59M TV-target seeker guided missiles. The new systems led to a reduction in internal fuel amounting to 85 l (22.4 US gal). Su-24M was manufactured in 1981–1993.
- Su-24M2 ('Fencer-D')
- Next modernization of Su-24M introduced in 2000 with the “Sukhoi” program and in 1999 with the “Gefest” program. The modernized planes are equipped with new equipment and systems. As a result, they get new capabilities and improved combat efficiency, including new navigation system (SVP-24), new weapons control system, new HUD (ILS-31, like in Su-27SM or KAI-24) and expanding list of usable munitions (Kh-31A/P, Kh-59MK, KAB-500S). The last batch of the Sukhoi was delivered to the Russian VVS in 2009. Modernization continues with the program “Gefest”. All frontline bombers Su-24 in the Central Military District (CVO) received new sighting and navigation systems SVP-24 in 2013.
- Su-24MK ('Fencer-D')
- Export version of the Su-24M with downgraded avionics and weapons capabilities. First flight 30 May 1987 as T-6MK, 17 May 1988 as Su-24MK. Manufactured 1988–1992, sold to Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
- Su-24MR ('Fencer-E')
- Dedicated tactical reconnaissance variant. First flight 25 July 1980 as T-6MR-26, 13 April 1983 as Su-24MR. Entered service in 1983. Su-24MR retains much of the Su-24M's navigation suite, including the terrain-following radar, but deletes the Orion-A attack radar, the laser/TV system, and the cannon in favor of two panoramic camera installations, 'Aist-M' ('Stork') TV camera, RDS-BO 'Shtik' ('Bayonet') side-looking airborne radar (SLAR), and 'Zima' ('Winter') infrared reconnaissance system. Other sensors are carried in pod form. Manufactured 1983–1993.
- Su-24MP ('Fencer-F')
- Dedicated electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) variant, intended to replace the Yak-28PP 'Brewer-E'. First flight 14 March 1980 as T-6MP-25, 7 April 1983 as Su-24MP. The Su-24MP has additional antennas for intelligence-gathering sensors, omitting the laser/TV fairing, but retaining the cannon and provision for up to four R-60 (AA-8) missiles for self-defense. Only 10 were built.
- Algerian Air Force – 34 Su-24MK, some upgraded to the M2 standard. 2 Su-24MR.
- Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force – 11 are in service as of January 2013. 24 Iraqi Su-24s were evacuated to Iran during the first Persian Gulf War and were put in service with the IRIAF. Possibly Iran purchased other Su-24s from Russia or other former Soviet States. Iran tested domestically produced anti-radar smart missiles carried by Su-24 in September 2011, the IRIAF's Deputy Commander, General Mohammad Alavi said, IRINN TV reported during the tests.
- Kazakhstan military – 25 in service as of January 2013
- Russian Air Force – 251 Su-24M, 40 Su-24M2, 79 Su-24MR as of 2011
- Russian Naval Aviation – 18 in service as of 2012
- Syrian Air Force – 22 received, 20 Su-24MK from Soviet Union, 1 Su-24MK and 1 Su-24MR from Libya 20 in service as of January 2013. All the Su-24MK upgrated to SU-24M2 between 2009–2013. The Contract was signed in 2009 and the upgrade started in 2010
- 120 Su-24, 25 in service, 95 in storage [clarification needed]
- Up to 12 ex Belarusian Air Force were transferred to Sudan in 2013
- 30 delivered to the Iraqi Air Force, five destroyed in the Persian gulf war, one survived in Iraq and 24 flew to Iran where they were pressed into service for the IRIAF
- Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
- 6 Su-24MKs purchased for the Libyan Air Force. Two transferred to Syria. One destroyed in fire, one shot down in 2011. Other destroyed on Libyan Air Force airfield Ghardabiya after by coalition aircraft in 20 March 2011.
- Soviet Union
- Passed on to successor states.
- Inherited from the Soviet Union, 34 served with the Belarusian Air Force, consisting of 22 Su-24Ms and 12 Su-24MRs. All retired from Belarusian service in 2012 with up to 12 transferred to Sudan in 2013 together with ground support.
- Crew: Two (pilot and weapons system operator)
- Length: 22.53 m (73 ft 11 in)
- Wingspan: 17.64 m extended, 10.37 m maximum sweep (57 ft 10 in / 34 ft 0 in)
- Height: 6.19 m (20 ft 4 in)
- Wing area: 55.2 m² (594 ft²)
- Empty weight: 22,300 kg (49,165 lb)
- Loaded weight: 38,040 kg (83,865 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 43,755 kg (96,505 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Saturn/Lyulka AL-21F-3A turbojets
- Dry thrust: 75 kN (16,860 lbf) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 109.8 kN (24,675 lbf) each
- Fuel capacity: 11,100 kg (24,470 lb)
- Maximum speed: 1,315 km/h (710 kn, 815 mph, Mach 1.08) at sea level; Mach 1.35 (1,654 km/h) at high altitude
- Combat radius: 615 km in a low-flying (lo-lo-lo) attack mission with 3,000 kg (6,615 lb) ordnance and external tanks ()
- Ferry range: 2,775 km (1,500 nm, 1,725 mi)
- Service ceiling: 11,000 m (36,090 ft)
- Rate of climb: 150 m/s (29,530 ft/min)
- Wing loading: 651 kg/m² (133 lb/ft²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.60
- G-force limit: 6 g
- Takeoff roll: 1,550 m (5,085 ft)
- Landing roll: 1,100 m (3,610 ft)
- 1 × onboard 23 mm GSh-6-23 cannon, 500 rounds of ammunition.
- Up to 8,000 kg (17,640 lb) ordnance on 8 hardpoints, including up to 4 × Kh-23/23M radio-command missiles; up to 4 × Kh-25ML laser-guided missiles; up to 2 × Kh-28, Kh-58E or Kh-58E-01 or Kh-31P ARMS; up to 3 × Kh-29L/T laser/TV-guided short-range air-to-surface missiles; up to 2 × Kh-59 or Kh-59ME TV-command guided missiles, Kh-31A anti-ship missiles, S-25LD laser-guided missiles, KAB-500KR TV-guided and KAB-500L laser guided bombs.
- Unguided rocket launchers with 240 mm S-24B rockets or 340 mm S-25-OFM rockets.
- Other weapon options include general-purpose bombs AB-100, AB-250 M54 or M62 and AB-500M-54, thermobaric bombs ODAB-500M, cluster bombs RBK-250 or RBK-500, small-size cargo pods KMGU-2, external gun pods SPPU-6, external fuel tanks PTB-2,000 (1,860 l) or PTB-3,000 (3,050 l) and tactical nuclear bombs.
- 2 × R-60 or R-60MK air-to-air missiles are normally carried for self-defense; upgraded aircraft can carry R-73E as well.
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- "Military aircraft prices." aeronautics.ru. Retrieved: 5 March 2011.
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- "Su-24M Fencer Front-Line Bomber, Russia." airforce-technology.com. Retrieved: 5 March 2011.
- "Directory: World Air Forces". Flight International, 11–17 November 2008.
- "Russia Su-24M bomber crashes in southwest Russia, pilots safely eject." rian.ru, 19 December 2008. Retrieved: 5 March 2011.
- "Defense Su-24 Bomber Crashes in Urals – No Casualties." rian.ru, 13 February 2012. Retrieved: 13 February 2012.
- "SU-34 Fullback." Defense Update, 27 October 2006. Retrieved: 5 March 2011.
- "Russia trains its missiles on Tbilisi." The Australian,19 August 2008. Retrieved: 24 December 2011.
- Schwirtz, Michael, Anne Barnard and Andrew E. Kramer. "Russian Forces Capture Military Base in Georgia." The New York Times, 12 August 2008. Retrieved: 24 December 2011.
- "Libya conflict." CNN. Retrieved: 5 March 2011.
- "Libya Live Blog – March 6." Al Jazeera, 6 March 2011. Retrieved: 26 July 2011.
- Simpson, John. "Libya: Gaddafi fighter bomber is shot down in Ras Lanuf." BBC, 5 March 2011. Retrieved: 26 July 2011.
- Nov 16 2012 (2012-11-16). "Assad deploys Syrian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer attack planes to hit rebels hard". The Aviationist. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- Antonov et al. 1996.
- World Military Aircraft Inventory, "2013 Aerospace", Aviation Week and Space Technology, January 2013
- "Iran Su-24 tests anti-radar missile." airforceworld.com, Sept 2011. Retrieved: 5 Oct 2011.
- The Military Balance 2012, p. 200.
- "Iraqi Perspectives Project Phase II. Um Al-Ma'arik (The Mother of All Battles): Operational and Strategic Insights from an Iraqi Perspective, Volume 1 (Revised May 2008)." oai.dtic.mil. Retrieved: 5 March 2011.
- Wilson 2000, p. 130.
- Antonov, Vladimir, et al. Okb Sukhoi: A History of the Design Bureau and Its Aircraft. Leicester, UK: Midland, 1996. ISBN 1-85780-012-5.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sukhoi Su-24.|
- Su-24 page on Sukhoi's site
- Su-24 page on Russian Military Analysis site
- Su-24 page on Airforce-Technology.com
- Su-24 page on AerospaceWeb.org
- Su-24 page on militaryfactory.com