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Su-24 Program

With the F-111 seeming to have established US supremacy in the design of attack aircraft in the early 1960s, the task for Soviet engineers was clear create a plane that could combine the tasks of a fighter-bomber and a fighter-interceptor to achieve accuracy, speed and manuverability at both high and low altitudes.

In the early 1960s, Soviet aviation engineers received one of their hardest tasks yet: As the United States pulled ahead in attack aircraft design with the powerful sweep-wing F-111, the Soviet Air Force needed a plane that fused two proven existing designs, the Su-7B fighter-bomber and the Su-15 fighter-interceptor. The aircraft had to be capable of hitting small ground targets, reaching supersonic speeds and breaking through low-altitude enemy air defenses at 50 meters and make it home.

The Su-15 was taken as the basis for the new design in 1963 and quickly underwent major changes. The Orion radar system installed in the nose cone was large enough to seat its two-man crew in a tandem arrangement, side by side. It was initially planned to install four RD36-35 engines to ensure short take-off and landing capacity, but three months after the maiden flight in August 1965, the aircraft received two AL-21F engines instead. These, some claim, were designed using a J79 engine taken from a U.S. fighter shot down in Vietnam.

By this time, Soviet designers were lagging significantly behind their American counterparts who had put the state-of-the-art F-111 aircraft into the skies eight months earlier. The U.S. aircraft had a variable-sweep wing ("swing wing"), which could be adjusted backward for supersonic flight and then returned to its original wide-angled position for slow speeds. This allowed the plane to combine high-altitude supersonic flight and stable low-altitude flight while carrying a heavy bomb load.

Serial production of the Su-24 was deployed since 1971 in co-operation of two plants: the Far Eastern Plant. YA Gagarin (the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur) and the Novosibirsk Plant VP Chkalov. Construction began at the Far East Machinery Plant Yu.A. Gagarin in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, which produced basic units of the aircraft, but the final assembly was carried out only in Novosibirsk.

The first production aircraft was flown in Novosibirsk, December 31, 1971, and in 1973 began deliveries to the Air Force. Troop tests of the Su-24 were carried out in two stages: the first stage - from May 1975 to August 1976, and the second phase - from January 1981 to March 1982.

Production of the aircraft gradually gained momentum. Increasing the size of the annual production positively affected the rate of output and quality. The first production aircraft in 1973 were placed in the 4th Centre for Combat Training and retraining of pilots of Lipetsk. As mass production of the new bombers acted primarily in the regiments stationed along the western border of the Soviet Union in the Baltic States and Ukraine. Airbase in Chernyakhovsk (Kaliningrad region) took one of the first production Su-24. From this airport bombers could quickly relocate to East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the real risk of the NATO military installations anywhere in Europe. Later, Su-24 entered the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, North (Poland) and South (Hungary), a group of Soviet troops.

But most of the first 35 Su-24 were not at the front. They were used to the end of state tests (they were involved in a total of 17 test machines) and the experimental samples to create modifications of the aircraft.

In the production process in the design of the Su-24 has been amended. Even the first production aircraft differed from T6-2I, in particular wing of increased span and area. Subsequently, the results of tests reshaped rear fuselage. Drogue parachute container was moved to the base of the keel. Ending keel increased to accommodate additional antenna avionics. To reduce the partitioning of the flaps that simplify the design and reduce the weight of the wing consoles. They were held and other improvements. Initially, production Su-24, similarly experienced machine we had six points suspension arms. Weight payload was limited to 7,000 kg. In the production process in one of the aircraft established the seventh, eighth and later point suspension arms. Both additional holder were mounted under the fuselage to each other around the axis of symmetry of the aircraft. After successful testing of the machine serial Su-24 were produced with eight points of the suspension arms. Weight increased payload up to 8000 kg.

Serial production of the Su-24 continued until 1983, after which the plant completely switched to release new versions of the Su-24, which the government decree of 22 June 1983 was adopted under the designation Su-24M. According to experts, the combat effectiveness of the Su-24M, compared with the Su-24 rose 1.5 to 2 times. Serial production of the Su-24M continued until 1993.

The chief designer of the plane between 1965 and 1985 was Ye.S. Felsner, and then, from 1985, work was headed by L.A. Logvinov. Serial production of all modifications discontinued in 1993. All were released about 1,200 aircraft of this type in various versions, including more than 770 in the modification of the Su-24M and its derivative versions. Other accounts report that the total production of the Su-24 type was about 1,400 planes in all modifications.

The Su-24/Su-24M was the only type of modern domestically-produced frontline bomber and formed the backbone of the strike capability of the frontal aviation of the Air Forces of the RF and Ukraine. The Design Bureau has been implementing a joint program with the Air Forces to upgrade combat aircraft since 1999. By 2015 the Russian Air Force operated 150 upgraded Su-24s, but these were being replaced by the Su-34 and were due for complete withdrawal from service in 2020.




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