Sukhoi Su-30


Sukhoi Su-30

Indian Air Force Su-30K landing with an airbrake.
Role Air superiority fighter, Strike fighter
Manufacturer Sukhoi
First flight 1989
Introduction 1996
Status Operational
Primary users Russian Air Force
Indian Air Force
Algerian Air Force
PLA Air Force (China)
Unit cost US$33-$45 million
Developed from Sukhoi Su-27
Variants Sukhoi Su-30MKI
Sukhoi Su-30MKK

The Sukhoi Su-30 (NATO reporting name "Flanker-C") is a twin-engine military aircraft developed by Russia's Sukhoi Aviation Corporation and introduced into operational service in 1996. It is a multi-role strike fighter that can perform both air superiority and ground attack missions.

The aircraft is a modernized version of the Su-27UB and has several variants. The Su-30K and Su-30MK series have had commercial success. The variants are manufactured by competing organizations: 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. Irkut makes the long-range, multirole Su-30MK series. The series includes the Su-30MKI developed for the Indian Air Force and its derivatives, the MKM, MKA and MKV for Malaysia, Algeria and Venezuela respectively.


Su-27PU long-range interceptor

While the original Su-27 had good range, it still did not have enough for certain air-defense tasks required by the PVO Strany ("PVO" being short for Protivo-Vozdushnaya Oborona — "Air Defense") whose requirements spanned the need 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. 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 crewmen. 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-series models flew in 14 April 1992.

To adapt the Su-27UB to its new role, the aircraft was fitted with a retractable in-flight refueling probe to increase range; the probe is offset to the left side of the nose and, to accommodate it, the IRST was offset to the right. The aircraft's avionics were changed, fitting special communications and guidance equipment to command formation flights of single-seat Su-27 interceptors. The rear cockpit received a large CRT display which provides the formation leader with tactical information regarding targets and interceptors. The navigation and fly-by-wire systems were also upgraded. It was fitted with an updated NIIP N001 radar, providing some ability for air-to-ground attack and to track and engage multiple aerial targets simultaneously.

Sukhoi offered the Su-27PU to be used as a "fighter controller", a sort of mini-AWACS, with the back-seater using the radar and data links to control other fighters. However, the PVO was not interested in buying the Su-27PU. All five Su-27PUs, with the new designation of "Su-30", ended up in PVO service in the training role. Deliveries to the 54th Interceptor Air Regiment at the advanced training base at Savostleyka began in 1996.

A Su-30M two-seat multirole variant was proposed for Russian use and a few may have been built in the mid-1990s for evaluation.

Sukhoi proposed an export variant, Su-30MK, where "MK" stood for "Modernizirovannyi Kommercheskiy" (Modernized Commercial). Sukhoi displayed a Su-30MK demonstrator at the Paris Air Show in 1993. A much more optimized Su-30MK demonstrator, rebuilt from the first production Su-27PU, was displayed in 1994.


The Su-30 is a mult-role fighter. It has a two seat cockpit with an airbrake behind the canopy.

Highly flexible multi-role fighter

The Su-30MK is capable of accomplishing a wide variety of combat missions at significant distances from the home base, in any weather conditions and in severe jamming environment, both by day and by night.

This multirole aircraft is adequately fitted for the entire spectrum of tactical and operational combat employment scenarios, varying from counter-air tasks (ie. gaining air superiority, air defense, air patrol and escort) to ground attack, suppression of enemy air defenses, air interdiction, close air support and maritime attack. Additionally, the Su-30MK can perform ECCM and early warning tasks, as well as exercise command-and-control over a group of aerial combat assets performing joint missions.

Angle of attack

The Su-30MK's aerodynamic configuration is an unstable-in-longitude triplane (see relaxed stability). To increase lifting effectiveness and enhance maneuverability of the aircraft, canards are installed. They are deflected automatically to ensure controlled flight at high angles-of-attack. Canards, however, are installed only in some Su-30 variants like the Su-30MKI.

Pugachev's Cobra maneuver

The integrated aerodynamic configuration, combined with the thrust vectoring control ability, results in unprecedented maneuverability and unique takeoff and landing characteristics. Equipped with a digital fly-by-wire system, the Su-30MK is able to perform some very advanced maneuvers. They include the well-known Pugachev’s Cobra and the Bell. This allows the aircraft to rapidly strip airspeed, causing a pursuing fighter to overshoot. While performing a somersault maneuver the aircraft makes 360-degree turn in the pitch plane without any loss of altitude. In the Controlled Flat Spin maneuver the aircraft performs several full turns in the horizontal plane, with zero forward speed, virtually on the spot.

Power plant

The aircraft's power plant incorporates two Saturn AL-31FP afterburning low-bypass turbofan engines. A total afterburning thrust of 25,000 kgf (245 kN) ensures Mach 2 horizontal flight speed, 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 in-flight refueling system increases the flight duration up to 10 hours with a range of 8,000 km at cruise altitudes of 11 to 13 km.

The long range significantly increases deployment options. The missions vary from prolonged patrols and escorts to long-range intercepts and air-to-ground strikes.

Diagonally 2D thrust vectoring control

Differential ±15-degree deflection of the engines' asymmetric nozzles (with turn axes positioned at 32-deg angle to each other) enables pitch/yaw thrust vectoring control. Depending on the maneuver to be performed, nozzles deflections can be synchronized with or differ from the deflections of horizontal tail planes.

Two-member crew

A two-member crew configuration contributes significantly to enhanced combat capabilities, due to rational distribution of workload between crewmembers. While the first pilot flies the aircraft, controls weapons and performs manoeuvring dogfight, the co-pilot employs BVR air-to-air and air-to-ground guided weapons in long-range engagements, monitors tactical environment to ensure situational awareness, and performs command-and-control tasks in group missions.


  • Radar: Either a N001VE or Phazotron N010 Zhuk-27 or an N011M BARS pulse Doppler passive electronically scanned array radar. Capable of detecting and tracking up to 15 air targets, while concurrently attacking four of them. The N011M BARS radar (featuring a 20-m (65.6 ft) resolution) ensures detection of large sea-surface targets at a distance of up to 400 km (248.5 mi), and small-size ones at a distance of up to 120 km (74.5 mi).
  • Other avionics include an integrated optronic sighting-and-navigation system with a laser gyro navigation system; helmet-mounted displays, a head-up-display, multi-function color LCDs with image mixing ability; and a GPS system (GLONASS/NAVSTAR compatible).
  • IR and laser sighting pods to detect and engage small-size ground targets are available for installation. The aircraft is provided with an ECCM facility intended to subvert hostile electronic and electro-optical countermeasures.
  • The aircraft features autopilot ability at all flight stages including low-altitude flight in terrain-following 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.

Unit Costs

  • A standard Su-30K is estimated at US$34 million.
  • A Su-30MKK variant is estimated at US$53 million.


Indian Su-30K with Mirage 2000 and USAF F-15 during Cope India '04 exercises

Long range interceptor based on two-seater Su-27UB trainer. Later renamed Su-30.
Testbed fighter with canards added.
Commercial version of the basic Su-30. 50 units sold to India and later upgraded to Su-30MKI.
Sukhoi proposal for upgrading Russian AF single seat Su-27S. Also proposed export version for Indonesia, 24 was ordered but subsequently cancelled due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the only single seat in Su-30 family.
Upgrade for operational two-seat fighters, the Su-27UB, Su-30 and Su-30K.
Basically an upgraded Su-27PU, first real multi-role aircraft in Su-27 family.

Su-30MK of the Indonesian Airforce

The commercial version of Su-30M first revealed in 1993.
Upgraded Su-30MK with canards and TVC.
MKI stands for "Modernizirovannyi Kommercheskiy Indiski" meaning "Modernized Commercial India". Jointly-developed with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Air Force. Includes Thrust Vectoring Control (TVC) and canards. Equipped with a multi-national avionics complex sourced from Israel, India, Russia and France.
Export version for China.
Based on the MKI, a highly specialised version for Royal Malaysian Air Force with the same platform but a French, South African and Russian combination of avionics. 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) and laser warning sensor (LWS) from SAAB AVITRONICS (South Africa), as well as the Russian NIIP N011M BARS PESA radar, electronic warfare (EW) system, optical-location system (OLS) and a glass cockpit.
Export version for Venezuela is most likely to be similar to the Su-30MK2. This is based on the presence of two such demonstrator models (No. 0460 and No. 1259) from the KNAAPO facility that took part in July 2006 national day parade in Caracas. The latest news confirm that the Su-30 purchased by Venezuela are indeed Su-30MK2.
Su-30MKK with upgraded electronics that enabled support for anti-ship missiles
Su-30MK2 variant for Vietnam with minor modifications.
Su-30MKK with Zhuk MSE radar and Support for Kh-59MK anti-ship missile.
Highly specialised version for Algeria is similar to the MKI, but will principally be equipped with French and Russian avionics. It will feature head-up and multifunction displays from the Thales Group and Sagem of France.


Military operators of the Su-30

Sukhoi-30MKI, Indian Air Force, Aeroindia 05.

Sukhoi Su-30Mk2 Venezuelan Air Force

People's Republic of China
  • Indian Air Force, after years of negotiations, decided to purchase 50 Su-30 aircraft and acquired the licence from Sukhoi and Russia to manufacture an additional 140 Su-30MKI aircraft. India is expected to eventually acquire a total of 230 aircraft. Currently 116 Sukhoi-30MKI are in service.
  • Indonesian Air Force operates 2 Su-27SK, and 2 Su-30MK aircraft. Indonesia ordered 3 Su-27SKM and 3 Su-30MK2 aircraft and signed an agreement for a possible order for six more aircraft.
  • Royal Malaysian Air Force after a close visit to India's Su-30MKI, signed a deal to purchase 18 of Su-30MKM (M for Malaysia) in May 2003. The first 2 Su-30MKMs were formally handed over in Irkutsk on 23 May 2007, later arrived in Gong Kedak airbase on 21 June. Full squadron of 18 aircraft will be operational by the end of 2008. As part of the deal, the Russians will send a Malaysian astronaut to the ISS.
  • Russian Air Force Operates at least 19 which are all in service with the Russian Air Force VVS
  • Venezuelan Air Force and the government of Venezuela on 14 June 2006, announced the purchase of 24 units of the Su-30MK2 aircraft. The first two Su-30MK2s arrived in the first week of December 2006 while another 8 were commissioned during 2007, fourteen more units have arrived in 2008 with the last 4 being delivered in August.