The first Su-17 began to arrive in the USSR Air Force units in 1972. In the same period, the export of the aircraft began. Su-17, the first fighter-bomber of Sukhoi Design Bureau with variable wing geometry, was exported under the Su-20 index (an export version of the Su-17M with simplified avionics and a shortened nomenclature of weapons. In 1970-1971 Sukhoi Design Bureau developed an export version of the car, the Su-20, which in 1972 began to be shipped to Egypt. Released in 1972, a small series was built.
In February 1972, a government decree was issued that asked for the modernization of the Su-17M on-board equipment and the development of its export modification S-32MK. At the export S-32MKI with reduced weapons and on-board equipment in December 1972, test pilot A.N. Isakov made the first flight, and in January 1973 the plane was presented for state tests.
At the same time, another export version with the designation S-32MK, a hybrid of the Su-17M fuselage and the Su-7BMK wing, was developed for delivery to the third world countries. The car was tested in 1973 by test pilot V.Krechetov, but the "hybrid" did not receive further development. Su-7BMK was not made from 1971 and the manufacture of another modification on the overloaded DMZ imeni Yu.A. Gagarin was recognized as inexpedient, especially since the year before the Egyptian air force had received a Su-17 squadron.
State tests of the S-32MKI successfully completed in December 1973. Under the designation of the Su-20 it was exported, and the serial code was changed to S-32MK. The first 15 aircraft entered service with the Syrian Air Force. Over 140 Su-20s were delivered to Poland, Egypt, Iraq, Syria. Export Su-20 series 62-66 and 74-76 from the Su-17M and among themselves differed in many details.
The design of the Su-20 was very similar to the Su-17M, there were slight differences in the on-board equipment and aircraft armament system. The difference lies in the composition of the equipment. VHF radio station R-832M is replaced by an older R-802I. The armament included an R-3C rocket with a thermal gol, to ensure the use of which the radio range meter SRD-5MK Kvant had to be additionally installed, and the X-23 missile guidance line equipment was used in a container version. Suspended cannon installations SPPU-22 are replaced by fixed installations UPK-23. In addition, an arsenal of weapons, included NAR C-24, C-8, C-5 and C-3K, multi-lock holders MBDS-U6-68, for conventional bombs weighing up to 250 kg. On the holders of the BDZ-57M aircraft could carry up to six bombs of 500 kg.
The S-32MK 74-76 series had a centralized refueling system and new suspended tanks PTB-800 and PTB-1150 instead of 600-liter. New instruments appeared on the dashboard in the cockpit, for example, the pointer of the angle of attack and overload of the UUAP-72-1. In addition, an integrated reconnaissance (CAC) container could be suspended. Planes up to the 66th series carried only the AFA-39 camera. On all Su-17M and Su-20, the cabin was illuminated with red light, aimed so as to ensure normal observation of the instruments and quick adaptation of the sight.
With incomplete armament, the Su-20 was shipped to Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Iraq, North Korea and Vietnam. Later versions of the Su-22 (export version of the Su-17M2, equipped with the RD-29BS-300 TRDF, which was later installed on aircraft of other export versions; produced in 1976. ) equipped with placed in the nose compartment of the radar warning of collisions with ground objects and pulsed Doppler radar. Another feature of the Su-22 was a wider tail section of the fuselage (extended for installation of the Khachaturov engine).
From 1973 to 1990 about seven hundred aircraft of the Su-20 and Su-22 modification were manufactured. They were in service with the allied countries of the Soviet Union under the Warsaw Pact, as well as the states that the USSR provided military assistance to at various times.
Su-17 and its export modifications Su-20 and Su-22 theoretically had the opportunity to conduct air combat against third-generation Western fighter aircraft, but as such these machines were almost never used. The Su-20 was first used during the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict. This aircraft was in service with the Syrian and Egyptian air forces. Su-20 struck at Israeli military and industrial sites. During the fighting, 12 Su-20s were lost.
This machine in the modifications of the Su-20 and Su-22 became the basis of the Afghan Air Force. During this conflict, about thirty cars were lost (no exact data). Several aircraft of export modifications (Su-20 and Su-22) were shot down by Pakistani air force fighters. The Su-20 and Su-22 were the main machine of the Iraqi air force during the Iran-Iraq war. The total loss of these aircraft during this campaign is more than sixty cars. During the first Gulf War, Iraq overtook 44 Su-20s in Iran to protect them from the attacks of the international coalition. After the war, the Iranian authorities refused to give the aircraft to their rightful owner.
In 1973, the development of another export version of the car, the Su-22, began. Su-22 received a new R-29BS-300 engine and R-3C and X-23 missiles. This aircraft had internal caisson partitions in the wings, a wide vertical tail, a braking parachute and eight pylons for hanging arms.
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