Su-30 Flanker-C – Russian 4 generation fighter jet [review]

The Sukhoi Su-30 is a Russian multi-role fighter aircraft based on the two-seat training aircraft Sukhoi Su-27UB, the development of which began in the last years of the Soviet Union.


Sukhoi began developing the Su-30 in the mid-1980s. Even before the Su-27 (“Flanker”) was put into service, further development began. The aim was to create a whole series of aircraft types, which would consist of a long-range interceptor, an air superiority fighter, a tactical fighter-bomber and a multi-purpose fighter. Suchoi referred to this generation as Series 30.

The Su-30, initially also called Su-27PU, should represent the long-range interceptor in this concept. The first prototype flew under the designation T-10PU-5 for the first time on December 30, 1989. The prototype was relatively free of problems, which is why series production began very quickly. The first Su-30 series aircraft flew on April 14, 1992, and this type was put into service that same year. In use, the Su-30 was intended as a supplement to the MiG-31 (“Foxhound”), which should then be used primarily to defend against cruise missiles. The Su-30 was designed to intercept US B-1 and B-52 bombers over the North Pole and the Pacific. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, this concept became obsolete, making the Su-30 “unemployed”. As a result, there was initially only a limited production of Su-30 machines.

Russia Sells to India’s Air Force 18 Russian-Made New Sukhoi Su-30MKI Fighter Jets
Photo credit: Sputnik

As a result, Sukhoi began looking for new tasks for the Su-30 and began converting the Su-30 into a multi-role fighter. The result was the Su-30M, which is primarily intended for fighter-bomber missions. According to this range of tasks, a new combat electronics and a Chaika navigation system were installed instead of the interception radar. At the same time, the rear section of the machine was revised and stabilized to make it more resistant to fire. The Su-30MK was made available for export and repeatedly prevailed against its US American and European competitors on the Asian market.

Despite its size and weight, the Su-30 is capable of remarkable flight performance. This includes the cobra maneuver that has been demonstrated for the first time with a Su-27 and has been famous ever since. Compared to the Su-27, however, the Su-30 achieves a slightly lower climb performance and maximum speed. During maneuvers with very abrupt changes of direction, it loses enormous speed and thus also altitude, which is particularly evident in versions with thrust vector control, which greatly increase the maneuverability of the machine compared to aircraft with conventional engines.

The strength of the Su-30 lies primarily in its high flexibility, as it can be used for almost any type of application. These so-called “multi-role” capabilities are the greatest advantage of the Su-30MK on the world market, as only the F-16 “Fighting Falcon”, F / A-18 “Hornet” and JAS 39 “Gripen” have a similar one have a high degree of flexibility, but without achieving the flight performance of the Su-30. However, this could change with the introduction of the F-35 and the full operational capability of the French Rafale and the Eurofighter “Typhoon”.

The Su-30 has no stealth properties and, due to its size, has a high kerosene consumption, which is compensated for by the large internal tanks, so that the manufacturer has so far not integrated any additional drop-off tanks.

Radar systems

The Su-30 uses the NIIP N001 “Metsch” (also: RPLK-27, NATO code: “Slot Back”) as on-board radar. It was developed for the Su-27 and should have at least the same performance as the American AN / APG-65. However, this was not possible at the time of development, so parts from the existing N019 radar were used (mainly the parabolic antenna and the TS100 processor). Development was completed in March 1983. In the following tests, the range performance was well below expectations. The radar can detect a large bomber for a maximum of 140 km instead of the planned 200 km. Reliability was also extremely low with an MTBF of just five hours. Therefore, the radar was initially not accepted and revised again. The revised radar was introduced in 1991.

The parabolic antenna of the N001 has a diameter of 1.075 m and transmits with an average power of 1 kW in the X-band (8–12 GHz). It belongs to the group of doppler / impulse radars, which is why it also has good look-down / shoot-down capabilities. Large targets can be detected at a distance of 140 km, a target with a radar cross-section of 3 m² over 80 to 100 km, whereby such a target can only be safely tracked from 65 km. The radar also has a TWS mode and can track ten targets at the same time and fight two of them simultaneously. The Chinese version of the Su-30MK2 is equipped with a Schuk-MSE radar, with which up to ten targets can be tracked simultaneously and four can be fought simultaneously.

Su-30 Flanker-C – Russian 4 generation fighter jet [review]
Russian Su-30 | Photo credit: Wikipedia

In the Su-30MKI and its variants, the N011M “Bars” (also: RLSu-30MK) is used as one of the most powerful Russian radar devices for combat aircraft. It is particularly characterized by the PESA antenna, which significantly increases the performance in all relevant parameters. Development began in the early 1990s, with two specially configured Su-27Ms serving as the test platform. During the development, problems arose with the new antenna, which lost massive amounts of power when it was electronically swiveled over 40 °. For this reason, the antenna is now also mechanically aligned horizontally so that scan angles of ± 70 ° are possible, and only ± 40 ° in height due to the lack of mechanical alignment.

The antenna itself has a diameter of one meter, weighs 110 kg and transmits in the X-band. It achieves a pulse power of 4-5 kW and a continuous power of 1.2 kW. The antenna gain is 36 dB, the first side lobe is −25 dB lower, which leads to an average side lobe attenuation of −48 dB. The opening angle is 2.4 °, whereby twelve different beams can be generated. A programmable TS200 processor with a maximum performance of 75 MIPS is used for signal processing. The radar is controlled by three separate processors, which can fall back on a 16 MB RAM. [4] The complete system weighs 650 kg.

The N011M has several advanced operating modes to effectively combat a wide range of air, sea, and ground targets. These include ground mapping (with Doppler sharpening), TWS (pursuing 15 targets, four of which are fighting simultaneously) and NCTI based on specific properties of rotating fan blades. The location range is around 140 km for a radar cross-section of 1 m².

Amid tensions with China, India already may use the BrahMos supersonic missile
Indian Su-30 MKI | Photo credit: Wikipedia


Su-30 – Initial version and long-range interceptor based on the Su-27UB. Differs from the Su-27UB in that it has more extensive equipment to coordinate the deployment of a group of hunters.

Su-30K – First production version of the Su-30.

Su-30KI – Air superiority fighter based on the Su-27SKM for Indonesia.

Su-30KN – Modernization version for the Russian naval air force of the naval fleet.

Su-30M – Multipurpose fighter aircraft based on the Su-30.

Su-30MK – Production version of the Su-30 as a multi-role combat aircraft based on the Su-30M. The letter “K” in the name stands for commercial or export oriented and forms the basis for one of the two branches of Su-30 development since the Su-30M.

Su-30MKK – Export version of the Su-30MK for the People’s Republic of China. 76 machines were delivered.

Su-30MK2 – Improved Su-30MK.

Su-30MK3 – Proposal for a modified Su-30MK2 for the Chinese People’s Navy. Ultimately, this designation was not introduced and the aircraft were sold to China as the Su-30MK2.

Su-30MKV – Export version of the Su-30MK2 for Venezuela. 24 machines were delivered.

Su-30MK2V – Version of the Su-30MK2 for Vietnam.

Su-30M2 – Su-30MK2 for the Russian armed forces.

Su-30MKI – Special fighter-bomber version of the Su-30M for the Indian Air Force.

Su-30MKM – Export version of the Su-30MKI for Malaysia.

Su-30MKA – Export version of the Su-30MKI for the Algerian Air Force.

Su-30SM – Modified Su-30MKI for the Russian Air Force, of which the first 30 aircraft were ordered in March 2012 and 30 more aircraft in December of the same year, which will be completed by 2015 and 2015 respectively.

Su-30SME – Export version of the Su-30SM.

Technical data

CharacteriscticsSu-30KSu-30 MKI
Typelong-range interceptormultipurpose fighter
Length21.94 m22.10 m
Span14.70 m14.70 m
Wing area62.04 m²63.20 m²
Wing extension3.483.42
Wing loadingminimum (empty weight): 285 kg / m²
nominal (normal takeoff weight): 396 kg / m²
maximum (max. take-off weight): 532 kg / m²
minimum (empty weight): 280 kg / m²
nominal (normal takeoff weight): 413 kg / m²
maximum (max. take-off weight): 614 kg / m²
Height6.36 m6.38 m
Empty weight17,700 kg17,700 kg
Normal takeoff weight24,550 kg26,090 kg
Max. takeoff weight33,000 kgnormal: 34,500 kg
Overload: 38,800 kg
Fuel capacity9,400 kg9,640 kg
g limits−3 / + 8.5g−3 / + 9g
Top speedMach 2.35 (at optimal altitude)
Mach 1.35 at sea level
Mach 2 (at optimal flight altitude)
Mach 1.14 at sea level
Service ceiling17,500 m17,300 m
Climb rate230 m/s230 m/s
Rangeat optimal altitude: max. 3000 km
in low flight: 1270 km
with air refueling: 5200 km
at optimal altitude: max. 3000 km
with air refueling: 5200 km
Take-off distance550 m550 m with normal take-off mass
Landing distance700 m750 m with braking parachute
Engines2 Saturn / Ljulka AL-31FL turbofan engines2 Saturn / Ljulka AL-31FP turbofan engines
Thrustwith afterburner: 2 × 122.58 kN
without afterburner: 2 × 74.50 kN
with afterburner: 2 × 130.76 kN
without afterburner: 2 × 79.43 kN
Thrust-to-weight ratiomaximum (empty mass): 1.41
nominal (normal take-off mass): 1.02
minimum (max.start mass): 0.75
maximum (empty weight): 1.51
nominal (normal take-off mass): 1.02
minimum (max.starting mass): 0.69
Fuel ratio0.340.35


Fixed pipe weapon armament in the bow
1 × 30-mm automatic cannon Grjasew-Schipunow GSch-301 (9A-4071K) with up to 150 rounds of ammunition

Gun loading of 8000 kg at twelve external load stations

Air-to-air guided missile
6 × AKU / APU-470 start rails for 1 × GosMKB Wympel R-27R (AA-10 “Alamo-A”) each – semi-active radar-guided for medium-haul routes
2 × AKU / APU-470 start rails each for 1 × GosMKB Wympel R-27T (AA-10 “Alamo-B”) – infrared controlled for medium distances
6 × AKU / APU-470 start rails for 1 × GosMKB Wympel R-27ER1 (AA-10 “Alamo-C”) each – semi-active radar-guided for long distances
2 × AKU / APU-470 start rails for 1 × GosMKB Wympel R-27ET1 (AA-10 “Alamo-D”) each – infrared controlled for long distances
6 × AKU / APU-170 start rails for 1 × GosMKB Wympel R-77 / RWW-AE / RWW-SD (AA-12 “Adder”) each – actively radar-guided for long distances
6 × P-12-1-D start rails for 1 × GosMKB Wympel R-73R / E / M2 (AA-11 “Archer”) each – infrared controlled for short distances
2 × AKU / APU-470 start rails for 1 × GosMKB Wympel R-27P / R-27EP1 (AA-10 “Alamo-E / F”) each – passively steered to combat EloKa aircraft

Cruise missiles
2 × AKU-58 starting rails for an MKB Raduga Ch-59ME “Owod” (AS-18 “Kazoo”)
4 × AKU-58 starting rails for an MKB Raduga Ch-59MK “Owod” (AS-18 “Kazoo”)

Air-to-ground guided missiles
6 × AKU-58M starting rails for 1 × GosMKB Wympel Ch-29L (AS-14 “Kedge”) each – laser-guided
6 × AKU-58M starting rails for 1 × GosMKB Wympel Ch-29T / TE (AS-14 “Kedge”) each – television-controlled
6 × AKU-58 starting rails for a Zvezda-Strela Ch-31P “Taifoon” (AS-17 Krypton) – passive location for radar control
6 × AKU-58 launch rails for a Zvezda-Strela Ch-31A “Taifoon” (AS-17 Krypton) – actively radar-guided to combat ships
4 × AKU-58 launch rails for a Zvezda Ch-35E (SS-N-25 Switchblade) – actively radar-guided for fighting ships

Unguided air-to-surface missiles
4 × B-8-O / M1 missile launch containers for 20 × unguided S-8 air-to-surface missiles; Caliber 80 mm
4 × B-13L rocket launch containers for 5 × unguided S-13 air-to-surface missiles each; Caliber 122 mm
4 × PU-O-25 missile launch container for an unguided S-25OFM air-to-surface missile; 340 mm caliber

Guided bombs
3 × BD-4 suspension for each 1 × GNPP KAB-1500L-F (laser-guided 1500 kg bomb) [14]
3 × BD-4 suspension for each 1 × GNPP KAB-1500S-E (satellite navigation-guided 1500 kg bomb)
3 × BD-4 suspension for each 1 × GNPP KAB-1500TK / Kr (TV-controlled 1500 kg bomb)
6 × BD-3U suspension for 1 × GNPP KAB-500 D each (laser-guided thermobaric 500 kg bomb)
6 × BD-3U suspension for 1 × GNPP KAB-500L / LK / KR each (laser-guided 500 kg bomb)
6 × BD-3U suspensions for 1 × GNPP KAB-500T / KR each (TV-controlled 500 kg bomb)
6 × BD-3U suspension for 1 × GNPP KAB-500S-E each (satellite navigation-guided 500 kg bomb)

Free falling bombs
8 × Basalt FAB-500M-62T (500 kg high-explosive / fragmentation free-fall bomb)
8 × SB-500 (500 kg incendiary bomb)
8 × RBK-500 (500 kg cluster bomb)
8 × ODAB-500PM (500 kg aerosol bomb)
8 × BETAB-500SHP (500 kg anti-slope bomb)
3 × Basalt KMGU-2 (270 kg submunition container for small bombs and mines)
4 × multiple bomb carriers MBD3-U6-68 with 6 × basalt FAB-250M-62 each (250 kg free-fall bomb, max. 28 bombs)
4 × multiple bomb carriers MBD3-U6-68 with 6 × OFAB-250-270 each (250 kg free-fall bomb, max. 28 bombs)
5 × multiple bomb carriers MBD3-U6-68 with 4 × RBK-250-275AO-1SCh each (280 kg cluster bomb with AO-10 bomblets, max. 20 bombs)
4 × multiple bomb carriers MBD3-U6-68 with 6 × basalt FAB-100 each (100 kg free-fall bomb, max. 28 bombs)
6 × multiple bomb carriers MBD3-U6-68 with 5–6 × basalt OFAB-100-120 each (100 kg free-fall bomb, max. 32 bombs)
8 × P-50T practice bombs

External container
1 × Tekon / Elektron APK-9E data transfer case for Ch-29, Ch-59 and KAB-1500TK
2 × Sorbzija / KNIRTI SPS-171 / L005S “Sorbzija-S” jamming containers
2 × KNIRTI L-175W “Chibiny” sturgeon containers
1 × KNIRTI SAP-14 malfunction container
2 × KNIRTI SAP 518 disruptive containers

Self-defense systems

Decoys dispenser
Between the engines in the tail spur are two larger batteries APP-50A decoys for 14 blocks of 3 × 50 mm decoys each and in the middle of the bead of the tail skid a Gorizont APP 50MA decoyser (rectangular container for 12 × 50 each) mm heat flare decoys) installed. There are a total of 96 decoy cartridges.