Russia offers AL-41F1 engine and N035 Irbis radar for Su-30 operators

MOSCOW, ($1=120.00 Russian Rubles) — According AnalisiDefesa, the start of deliveries of the new Su-30CM2 multi-role fighters to Russian defense could force Malaysia and India to upgrade their main fighter fleets, consisting of the Su-30MKM and Su-30MKI, respectively. As is known, the Su-30SM2 is the latest version of the two-seater Su-30 family, which began operating about 30 years ago.

Russia gets new Su-30 - 16% more thrust, new radar, UAV control
Photo credit: UAC

On January 20, as we reported, the Russian Ministry of Defense officially announced that it had accepted delivery of four of the 21 Su-30SM2 ordered from the Irkutsk plant. The Su-30SM2 was built to a new factory standard, which will replace the previous Su-30SM, which flew for the first time in September 2010. In fact, since then the Russian Armed Forces have adopted 110 units, of which 22 for naval aviation and 88 for aerospace forces [VKS in Russian].

Su-30SM2 differs from the SM variant in the use of more powerful turbofan engines AL-41F1 instead of AL-31FP – an engine that serves not only Russian but also Indian and Malaysian Su-30MKI / MKM. This engine provides 16% more thrust, and is also equipped with vector-oriented nozzles that provide so-called “super maneuverability”.

Russia gets new Su-30 - 16% more thrust, new radar, UAV control
BulgarianMilitary.com graphics

The AL-41F1’s need for a 20% higher airflow obviously also required the expansion of the air intakes. But that’s not all: the SM2 variant has a redesigned fairing to accommodate a larger radar: the N-035 Irbis instead of the N-011M Bars.

As discussed in detail in the past, the Su-30CM2 uses virtually many components of the Su-35 to increase its interoperability within the Russian Air Force. In addition, as it is a two-seater, the Su-30CM2 can also be used as an advanced simulator for future Su-35 pilots, as the latter does not have a two-seater simulator [UB] version.

Given that the Su-30SM was purchased from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Myanmar [the last country in the export variant called the Su-30SME], there are some possibilities, albeit remote given recent deliveries, to request retrofitting with the new version. of the fighter.

Certainly, however, the recent introduction of the Su-30SM2 may prompt users of the Su-30 indefinitely older versions to update their fleets to improve performance. Malaysia, for example, which ordered 18 Su-30MKMs in 2003, has long been looking for ways to improve its reliability and efficiency with a fleet with an average life of more than 10 years.

Su-57 Felon - Russian stealth multirole fifth-generation fighter [review]
Al-41F1 Engine, Photo credit: Wikipedia

The shortage of engine spare parts has led Malaysia to try to solve the problem through a more functioning logistics system by entrusting some of the work on the Su-30MKM fleet to local companies such as Aerospace Technology Systems Corporation [ATSC]. ATSC has returned the first updated aircraft to Malaysian aviation in 2019. On the other hand, Kuala Lumpur would like to keep its Su-30MKM in service until 2040, and this could be an additional incentive to move to a more productive version of the SM2.

American F/A-18E/F Super Hortnet vs. Russian Su-30 Flanker C/G/H
Photo Credit: Radausa

India, for its part, has ordered a total of 284 Su-30MKIs, 240 of which are still in service, without neglecting a recent batch of 12 units dating back to last year.

Although generally considered one of the best radar systems in the world since its introduction in 1997, the N-011M Bars and its technology are clearly getting older and obsolete. The Indian Defense Research and Development Organization [DRDO] is working on Active Antenna Array Radar [AAAR] with Active Electronic Scanning Array [AESA], which can replace the original radar itself.

Russia is offering an alternative in the form of an upgrade package, which will include replacing the original Su-30MKI radar with an AESA version that uses transceivers designed for the Su-57’s fifth-generation fighter radar.

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