Sukhoi Su-30

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Sukhoi Su-30 inflight.jpg
Russian Air Force Su-30 over Russia
Role Multirole fighter[1]
Manufacturer Sukhoi
First flight 31 December 1989
Introduction 1996
Status In service
Primary users People's Liberation Army Air Force
Venezuelan Air Force
Vietnam People's Air Force
Russian Air Force
Produced 1990s–present
Number built 500+[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, 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 superiority 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 phase-array radar. Its derivatives include the Su-30MKM, MKA and MKV for Malaysia, Algeria and Venezuela, 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 in 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[edit]

The integrated aerodynamic configuration, combined with the thrust vectoring control ability, results in unprecedented 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.[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 12,500 kgf (123 kN, 27,550 lb) 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[edit]

Potential operators[edit]

Bangladesh Air Force and the ministry of defence announced plans to procure one squadron of Su-30MK2s after the delivery of 16 Yakovlev Yak-130 in 2015.[12]

Thailand formally requested information for the possible acquisition of the Su-30MK/MK2 However, the Saab Gripen was procured instead.[13]


Indian Air Force Su-30MKI
Royal Malaysian Air Force Su-30MKM
Algerian Air Force Su-30MKA refuelled by Il-78 Midas
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.[14]
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. Belorussia consider updating ex-Indian Su-30K to the Su-30KN standard.[15]
Commercial version of Su-30M first revealed in 1993. Export versions include navigation and communication equipment from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.[16]
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.[17][18][19] Twenty aircraft have been ordered; 4 in 2009 and 16 in 2012.[20] 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.[20] 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 Israel, India, Russia and France.[21]
Export version for China. MKK stands for Modernizirovannyi, Kommercheskiy, Kitayski or "Modernized, Commercial, China". Its NATO codename is 'Flanker-G'.[citation needed]
A derivative of the India-Russian Su-30MKI,[22] 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)[23] 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.[24]
A version of the Su-30MKI, except with French and Russian avionics for Algeria.[25]
A specialised version of the thrust-vectoring Su-30MKM and MKI variants for the Russian military, produced by the Irkut Corporation.[26][27] 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.[28][29] The aircraft is equipped with the Bars-R radar and the wide-angle HUD.[27][29][30][31][32] A contract for 60 of the multirole fighter was signed in March 2012 with delivery by 2016.[33] On 21 September 2012 Su-30SM performed its maiden flight.[34]
Export version for Venezuela.
Su-30MK2 variant for Vietnam with minor modifications.[35]


Operators of the Su-30 as of 2010
Indonesian Air Force Su-30
Venezuelan Air Force Su-30MK2
  • Algerian Air Force has 36 Su-30MKAs in service as of January 2014.[36] It received its first batch of 8 Su-30MKAs in 2011, and the second batch of 8 Su-30MKAs in 2012 from an order for 16 fighters.[37]
  • Angolan Air Force ordered 18 Su-30K fighters on 16 October 2013 as part of a $1 billion deal that also included other equipment and maintenance services for the country. The Su-30Ks were initially delivered to India in the 1990s, but were returned to Russia in 2007.[38]
 People's Republic of China
  • Indonesian Air Force (TNI - AU or Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Udara) has ordered a combined 11 Su-30MK/MK2 fighters.[41] As of September 2013 it has all Su-30MK/MK2s in inventory.[41]
  • Russian Air Force has 14 Su-30M2 and 34 Su-30SM fighters as of December 2014[46] It ordered 16 Su-30M2 fighters in December 2013,[47] following a previous order for 4 aircraft of that type.[20] A total of 65 Su-30SMs was on order in February 2014, with deliveries to be completed by 2016.[4]
  • Russian Naval Aviation - 12 Su-30SMs on order, 50 planned. First 3 aircraft were delivered in July 2014.[48][49][50]
  • Venezuelan Air Force and the government of Venezuela announced on 14 June 2006 the purchase of 24 units of the Su-30MK2. The first two Su-30MK2s arrived in early December 2006 while another 8 were commissioned during 2007; 14 more units arrived in 2008.[54][55] A second batch of 12 Su-30MKV is also being considered.[14] It has 24 Su-30MK2s as of January 2012.[56]
  • Vietnam People's Air Force operates 4 Su-30MKs and 20 Su-30MK2Vs in 2013.[57] Vietnam reportedly signed a contract for 12 more Su-30MK2s in 2009,[58] but the contract was reduced to 8 fighters.[59] On 20 July 2010, it was announced at Farnborough International Airshow that Vietnam signed a contract for 20 Su-30MK2s.[60] On 21 August 2013, Russia announced it would deliver another batch of 12 Su-30MK2s under a recent $450 million contract, with deliveries in 2014-2015.[61]

Specifications (Su-27PU/Su-30)[edit]

Uganda People's Defence Force Air Wing Su-30MK2

Data from KNAAPO,[10] Sukhoi,[11] Gordon and Davison.[62]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 21.935 m (72.97 ft)
  • Wingspan: 14.7 m (48.2 ft)
  • Height: 6.36 m (20.85 ft)
  • Wing area: 62.0 m2 (667 ft2)
  • Empty weight: 17,700 kg (39,021 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 24,900 kg (54,900 lb) with 56% fuel
  • Max. takeoff weight: 34,500 kg (76,060 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × AL-31FL low-bypass turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 7,600 kgf (74.5 kN, 16,750 lbf) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 12,500 kgf (122.58 kN, 27,560 lbf) each
  • Fuel capacity: 9,400 kg (20,724 lb) internally[63]


  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.0 (2,120 km/h, 1,320 mph)
  • Range: 3,000 km (1,620 nmi) at altitude
  • Service ceiling: 17,300 m (56,800 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 230 m/s (45,275 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 401 kg/m2 with 56% fuel (468.3 kg/m2 with full internal fuel) (82.3 lb/ft2 with 56% fuel)
  • Thrust/weight:
    • With full fuel: 0.86
    • With 56% fuel: 1.00
  • Maximum g-load: +9 g


The Su-27PU had 8 hardpoints for its weapon load, whereas the 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[edit]

  • 12 June 1999: Paris Air Show, Le Bourget, France, a Russian Su-30MK crashed – both pilots ejected safely and no one was hurt on the ground.
  • 30 April 2009: an Indian Air Force Su-30MKI crashed near Jaisalmer. A pilot died.[64]
  • 30 November 2009: an Indian Air Force Su-30MKI crashed near Jaisalmer. The pilots survived.[65]
  • 13 December 2011: an IAF Su-30MKI crashed near Pune. Both the pilots ejected and survived the crash.[66]
  • 14 October 2014: An IAF Sukhoi SU-30MKI fighter plane crashed in the village of Theoor (near Pune) at 5.30 PM. Both pilots survived.[67]

See also[edit]

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


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  • Gordon, Yefim and Peter Davison. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. Specialty Press, 2006. ISBN 978-1-58007-091-1. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Eden, Paul (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft. London, UK: Amber Books, 2004. ISBN 1-904687-84-9. 
  • Gordon, Yefim. Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker: Air Superiority Fighter. Airlife Publishing, 1999. ISBN 1-84037-029-7. 
  • Williams, Mel (ed.). "Sukhoi 'Super Flankers'". Superfighters: The Next Generation of Combat Aircraft. Norwalk, Connecticut: AIRtime Publishing Inc., 2002. ISBN 1-880588-53-6. 

External links[edit]