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Russia will soon receive the latest Su-30SM2: how does the aircraft differ from its predecessor

The Russian Ministry of Defense has plans to increase the number of Su-30SM2s actively in service. Only 110 of the more than 630 SU-30s manufactured are in service with Russia

Su-30 SM
Su-30 SM. Image: UAC

A number of the latest and most cutting-edge Su-30SM2 Super Sukhoi multifunctional aircraft were just recently delivered to the Aerospace Forces of the Russian Baltic Fleet. In the not-too-distant future, the Russian Ministry of Defense has plans to increase the number of SM2s that are actively in service. These factors provide sufficient justification for analyzing the Su-30SM2 aircraft, focusing on how it differs from its predecessor and the opportunities that lie ahead for it.

The Su-30 multirole fighter made its maiden flight in the Soviet Union in 1989. Igor Viktorovich Emelyanov directed the development of the aircraft at the Sukhoi Design Bureau. 1992 marked the beginning of the production of the 30th. The organizations Irkut and KnAAZ were responsible for the aircraft’s assembly. In the framework of the manufacturing of the Su-30, a significant emphasis was placed on exports. Today, in addition to Russia, India, Algeria, China, Vietnam, and a few other nations operate distinct types of the model. Most of them are commercial adaptations to the model developed for one country.

Only 110 of the more than 630 Su-30s manufactured are in service with Russia. The majority are Su-30SMs, developed in 2012 based on the Indian version of the 30th, the Su-30MKI. The second most common aircraft is the Su-30M2. Lastly, until recently, there were just four Su-30SM2 units in the military. Likewise, all contemporary models of the 30s are based on the commercial Su-30K. The export plane’s engines, sighting system, and ejection seat were distinct from the standard vehicle.

In the same vein, the features of every one of the different Su-30 types do not fundamentally diverge from one another. At its most fundamental level, this is a fighter with a capacity for two pilots, measuring 21.9 by 14.7 by 6.36 metres and having a maximum takeoff weight of 34.5 tonnes. When in cruising mode, the engine has a thrust of around 2 x 7 770 kgf, but when in afterburner mode, it may reach up to 2 x 12 500 kgf. The maximum speed that the aircraft is capable of reaching is 2,125 kilometres per hour. Most models have a maximum time in the air of up to 3.5 hours before refuelling. The maximum feasible altitude is 17.3 kilometres. The aircraft has a fighting radius of one and a half thousand kilometres. The 30s each have one GSh-301 30-mm gun at their disposal. In addition, twelve ports on each aircraft can be used to suspend missiles and bombs. The battle load can weigh up to 8 tonnes and includes things like bombs, guided missiles, NAR blocks, and KMG-U containers, among other things.

There is no significant change between the Su-30SM2 and its predecessor in terms of the aircraft’s attributes. Sukhoi faced a considerable challenge until recently because the SM2 is a development of the SM, and the SM was built on an export MKI. The problem is created by components that were imported. The new SM2 is now a total domestic aircraft as a whole. 

Difference between SM and SM2

In addition, the SM2 is differentiated from its predecessor by incorporating an AL-41F1S engine, which is developed from the Su-35, a new radar that is harmonized with the avionics of the Su-35S, and a more extensive arsenal.

The Su-30SM2 is equipped with a multi-channel integrated communication, data exchange, navigation, and identification system called OSNOD, which is already integrated into the Russian fifth generation fighter  Su-57. This allows the Super Sukhoi to interact with the Su-57 and, in the future, with heavy drones. It also combines the Super Sukhoi with current automated control systems.

The radar systems of the Su-30SM2 and the Su-35 share similarities, which is another area of overlap. The Irbis-E radar is installed on both of the aircraft in this pair. After the Byelka radar installed on the Su-57, it is the most powerful radar ever installed on a Russian fighter aircraft. The Irbis-E radar originated from the N011M Bars radar system installed on Sukhoi SU-30MKI aircraft and was created by Tikhomirov NIIP. Because it shares radar and other equipment with the Su-35, the Su-30SM2 will be able to use the same armaments that were designed for the Su-35.

In December 2020, the first contract was signed for producing 21 serial fighters based on this model. It is anticipated that the Su-30SM fleet will reach the level of SM2 by the year 2027, following the completion of an upgrade to that level.

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