RuAF received a new ‘improved’ Su-30SM2 and a batch of Yak-130

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The Russian Federation’s Aerospace Forces [VKS or RuAF] have, on December 1, taken possession of the final Su-30SM2 fighter slated for production in 2023. This coincides with the dispatch of a fleet of Yak-130 training units, all ready to begin active duty in the Air Force. The news was delivered to the public via press releases distributed by the United Aviation Corporation’s Irkutsk Aircraft Plant [UAC]. 

Photo credit: Soldar

Following comprehensive testing, these pieces of aviation equipment have satisfied all necessary criteria. Further, the Irkutsk plant confirms that this delivery brings to completion their projected plans for 2023. With this year’s targets accomplished, the company is shifting focus onto the upcoming year’s production line. 

An official statement from the Irkutsk Plant reveals significant enhancements to the Su-30SM2. These upgrades primarily target the aircraft’s avionics, specifically extending the detection and identification range of airborne targets. 

Moreover, the installation of novel, high-precision weaponry designed for the annihilation of air, ground, and sea targets—some hundreds of kilometers away—is another important feature of the Su-30SM2’s armament. 

Developed by Yakovlev’s Design Bureau,[Yak-130 is a combat training aircraft chosen as the primary model for both basic and advanced training of Russian Air Force pilots. This highly advanced aircraft is designed to instruct pilots for generation 4+ and 5 combat airplane operations. 

Beyond just the Yak-130 aircraft, the training complex includes an all-encompassing objective control system, training computer classes, as well as flight and specific simulation technology. 

At November’s end, the UAC completed several fighter jet deliveries to the Russian Federation. Recent dispatches include variations of Su-34, Su-35, and Su-57 fighters. Clearing these production goals for 2023, Russian manufacturers claim to have met all yearly objectives. 

Reports on BulgarianMilitary.com dated November 25 recounted the usage of a Russian Su-30SM in an operation to neutralize Ukrainian naval drones. Although the Su-30SM and Su-30SM2 models form part of the Russian Federation’s naval arsenal, some experts regard the anti-drone attacks as a financial drain. As argued by these experts, equivalent tasks could be accomplished using markedly cost-effective methods, such as helicopters or kamikaze drones. 

Given that an hour-long flight of the Su-30 could potentially cost Russian taxpayers between $10,000 to $13,000, it is evident that such operations could place an enormous financial strain on Russian aviation. While specific figures for the cost of operating a Russian Ka-52 helicopter for an hour remain undisclosed, it’s reasonable to presume that it would be substantially lower. The costs of running an attack drone for an hour are paltry in comparison to flying a Su-30, underscoring the financial implications. 

The Su-30 is itself an offshoot of the Sukhoi Su-27 family and originated as an internal development initiative by Sukhoi. Following several design modifications, the original two-seater trainer Su-27UB was evolved into the Su-27PU heavy interceptor, which was later rebranded Su-30 in 1996 by the Russian Ministry of Defense. 

From the Flanker family, which includes Su-27, Su-30, Su-33, Su-34, and Su-35, various models have been selected for either limited or large-scale production by the Russian Ministry of Defense. Diverging export prerequisites eventually led to a division of the Su-30 into two distinct variants produced by two rival entities: KnAAPO and the Irkut Corporation, both subsidiaries of the Sukhoi aerospace contingent. 

Originally dubbed SM1, this initiative to upgrade the Russian Su-30SM fighter jets, fitted with the N035 Irbis radar and the more robust Su-35S AL-41F1S engines has the principal objective of decreasing operational costs by amalgamating the two fighters. They will also be outfitted with new types of weaponry, such as KAB-250 aerial bombs and the Kh-59MK2 stealth cruise missile. The first batch of these enhanced planes is expected to be delivered by the end of 2020.

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