A little bit of history

            In the 80's the Su-27UB was entering service within USSR, it was no worth than the single seater, so the OKB Suchoj decided to create a long range interceptor (something like MiG-31) based on the Su-27UB as their internal fuel tank was larger than the air force required and the design bureau already mastered the in-flight refueling technique.

            However the Su-27UB did not have a large enough nose to hose the Zaslon radar of the MiG-31 (the radar was also too heavy) so the Suchoj Bureau decided to modernize the N001 radar which was capable of tracking up to 10 targets at a distance of 100km. The modernization was under the supervision of I.W. Jemielianow and the plane was named T-10PU (T-10 was the internal designation of Su-27).

            The first 2 prototypes were converted from 2 of the Su-27UB prototypes (the T-10U-5 and T-10U-6). In both planes the rear cockpit were to be occupied by the so-called "tactical officer" in other word WSO   who's task was to monitor the air situation, make tactical decisions, communicate with other planes and operate mid-range missiles. The OLS-27 optro-electronic head was moved to the right side of the cabin to make room for the in-flight refueling devices.

            As the T-10PU was capable of carrying more missiles and could engage in dog fight, it entered service as Su-27 and serial production began at 1991. However due to the disintegration of USSR, the crash of Russian economy, only several airframe were completed.


Su-30 for India

            At the beginning of the 90's Suchoj design bureau offered India a twin seated Su-27 under designation Su-30 as an alternative to the MiG-31. In 1993 on the Le Bourget air show the design bureau displayed a new aircraft called the Su-30MK, which suggested that there was Su-30M within the Russian air force (K as commercial). In real life the displayed aircraft was a Su-27UB which only carried a wide variety of air to ground missiles (which it could not launch). The weapons were KAB-500KR TV guided bomb, Ch-29T and Ch-59M. At that moment there was no Su-30M nor Su-30MK, only the Su-27PUs were renamed as Su-30 (probably for marketing purposes). The real prototype of Su-30MK was converted from a Su-27PU in 1996. The modification included enlarged fins, the addition of 2 underwing pylons (now to 8) and the canard foreplanes similar to those of the Su-27K and Su-27M (known in Russia as PGO). The plane now can carry 11975 litters of fuel (9400Kg) and the take off mass with 5150Kg of fuel is 24 tons.

            The contract for 40 Su-30K worth 1.3 billion USD (according to some other sources 1.8billion) was signed in 30th of November 1996. The first 8 was to be delivered until the end of 1997 and in the original Su-30 standard and the later delivered machines should be gradually upgraded to the final state - Su-30MKI ("I" for India).

            The electronic components were produced in different countries. The N011M Bars radar, O£S-30 optronic IRST and the digital fire control system are produced in Russian, the fight computer are Indian, cockpit is French including 6x8 inch MFD, VEH3000 HUD and SAGEM Totem navigation system and electronic warfare systems are delivered by Israel. The Su-30MKIs are powered by AL-31FP with thrust vectoring. The engine is steerable in +/- 15 degrees horizontally and +/- 32 degrees vertically (in Su-37 was +/- 15 degrees) which further increased its maneuverability. The AL-31FP was only 110Kg heavier and 0.4m longer than the AL-31F, while the thrust remained the same. The first planes delivered were equipped with AL-31F but they could be upgraded to AL-31FP later on without any changes in the airframe.

            However the program was delayed as the Indians first could not complete the subcontractor list and later did not deliver the component in time, after the crash of the T-10PMK-1 ("blue 01") in 1998 Le Bourget, the program was delayed further. After all the postponement, the tests of the first preproduction plane of the Su-30MKI began in 26th of Nov 2000. Not long before that, the testing of the Bars radar (on a Su-27M) was initiated.

            The Bars radar has a highly reliable phase-array antenna. It guarantees the detection of an incoming fighter at a distance no less than 130km (60km form the rear hemisphere) and the detection angle of  +/-45deg. vertically and +/-70deg. horizontally. Such wide angle was achieved as the antenna could rotate in this plane. The radar could simultaneously track both air and ground targets and engage 4 to 8 targets. In the near future the observation angle would be increased to +/- 100deg in both planes, and the accuracy would also rise to 5m (before 10m). Another function of the radar is automatic target transmission to 4 other planes functioning in passive mode.

            The first batch of Su-30MKI is to be delivered in the begging of 2002. They will be received by the 20th Division so-called "Lightnings". In the end of 1998 India ordered another 10 Su-30K for 300mln USD, so totally India would have 50 Su-30. In 28th of Dec 2000, India and Russian signed a contract worth 3 billion USD for the licensed production of 140 Su-30MKI. The first planes would be assembled form Russian parts in Bangalore; later in 2004 the planes would be build from Indian made parts.

            Together with the planes, the Russians will deliver a wide variety of missiles. They will be R-27 (all versions) with range between 50 and 95km. R-77 with active homing device and R-73. Every type of air-ground weapons presently in production in Russia will also be provided.


Planes for China


            The information of selling Su-30 to China was a surprise, as China already purchases 36 Su-27SK and 12 Su-27UBK and the license of producing 200 Su-27 and the supplier was Komsomolsk which specializes in single seated Su-27. The planes will be made completely in Russia, probably because the Chinese is already having problem with production of J-11s (Su-27). The factory in Komsomolk not only supplied China most of its Su-27SKs, it also mastered the technique of redistribution of part of the payments, as China paid in meat in cans and other goods.

            China began the negotiation in 1998 and a contract of delivering 38 planes worth 1.8billion USD was signed in July 1999. The prototype of the Su-30MKK (K for Kitaj-China) was the converted Su-27PU-5. The modernization supervised by A. Knyszew included several major changes. A better anticorrosive shell (originally designed for Su-27K) was used. The airframe and undercarriage (including wings with a larger fuel tank and more pylons) were reinforced. The fuel capacity was further increased as new vertical stabilizers with integral tanks (designed and produced in Komsomolsk for Su-27Ms) replaced the original parts. The electronic warfare system was modernized and new PNK-10 navigation, SDU-10 flying control, SUW-P and SUW-WEP fire control complexes were installed. A GPS system was added to the navigation suit. 2 6x8 color LCD were installed in both cockpits. The optronic system installed is 52Sz, data analyzing system is BRP-3 which uses diskettes to input mission plans. Altogether more than 150 new system blocks produced by NIIP, CKBA, Geofizyka, Omega and etc were installed; the integration of the system was conducted by RPKB. Thanks to the newly installed computers (both digital and analogue), the radar extended its capability, s it can conduct terrain mapping, mobile (ground) target selection and fire R-77 missiles.

            The radar is designated as N001WE, it has the same antenna and range (80-100 from front hemisphere, 30-40 from rear, it could track up to 10 targets and engage 1) in the nearest future, the radar would be capable of launching air-water missiles like 3M24 or 3M80. The maximum take-off weight is 38 tons which is close to the parameter represented by Su-27IB (Su-34), that mean the fully tanked (over 10 tons) plane could carry 8 tons of weapon. However lately the 38 ton limit is referred by the Russian as "extreme" and the max limit is lowered to 34 tons. The Su-30MKK will not be suited with PGO (vector thrust) nor AL-31FP engines, probably to reduce cost and shorten the design period.

            The first Su-30MKK "502" first flew in 18th May 1999. The first 10 planes were delivered in Dec 2000, the rest in 20014. Rumors say that the last party of Su-30MKK will be equipped with Zuk-MS radars with 50% increased range and are capable of engaging 4 targets. Together with the planes, a wide variety of weapons were delivered - Ch-59M, Ch-31P, Ch-29T and L missiles, KAB-500 and 1500 bombs.

            In Nov. 2001, a new contract for delivering 40 more Su-30MKK (with an option of 30 more) was signed for 1.5billion USD. In the first decade of 21st century, China will have 236 Su-27SKs, 40 Su-27UBK and at least 76 Su-30MKK, which much more than what India will have and as much as the Russian Federation. That is why Taiwan and Japan reacted most viciously as now they are under a real threat of the Chinese Liberation Army Air Force.

more to come...


Click to enlarge

Su-30MKI prototype Su-27PU(30) Su-30MKK Su-30MKK