Almost immediately after the adoption of the Su-24, the Design Bureau started development work to upgrade the baseline plane as early as at the beginning of the 1970s, with a pilot project to retrofit it with flight refuelling capability developed as early as 1971. Later on, the modernisation effort focused on improving the combat capabilities by installing new attack equipment and expanding the weapons array by adding laser and TV guided weapons: guided missiles (Kh-25, Kh-29L/T, Kh-58 and R-60) and 500 and 1,500kg guided bombs. The Design Bureau in 1973 produced a conceptual design to equip the T-6 with the Kaira TV-optical quantum system and Tekon track and search system (in pod) for Kh-59/Kh-59M missiles with TV target seekers.
In parallel with the improvement of production vehicles OKB led the design of a new modification of the bomber T6-M. As a prototype chosen eighth prototype aircraft, which after improvements became known T6-8M. The modifications were primarily associated with the installation of an improved sighting and navigation system PNS-24M. To accommodate the new equipments - of the nose of the fuselage lengthened by 750 mm by inserting between the cockpit and nose radome. Front warning station antenna located in a small rectangular sagging smoothly into the center section, rather than in separate radio-triangular fairings as on previous machines.
The modernization of the machine was due to both the creation of new air defense systems in the USA and NATO, and the emergence of the Soviet Union a new avionics and weapons for the Su-24. In April 1975 it was decided to develop the Sukhoi Su-24M. Experiements with the machine T6-8M aircraft, converted from an experiental T6-8, first flew on June 24, 1977, and mass production of the new modification has unfolded in Novosibirsk in 1978. The new version differed from the original design in having an elongated nose section to the fuselage. The Design Bureau designated the work under code name T-6M. There were several prototype planes built on the Su-24 platform to try out the design of individual items of equipment.
Experimental TB-8M had a number of differences from the Su-24, the latest series. The aerodynamics prototype T6M-8 made its maiden flight on 29th June 1977. The first flight of the modernized bomber took place July 24, 1977 Before the end of the flight tests, it was decided its serial production under the designation Su-24M. The first of the two pre-production planes made its first flight at the plant in Novosibirsk on 17th December 1977 with the plant's test crew, pilot V.T. Vylomov and navigator A.N. Kosarev, at the controls.
In the process of production on the upper surface of the center section appeared aerodynamic ridges coincide with pylons suspension arms. First crests have rounded corners and aerodynamic function only partitions, but the experience of the war in Afghanistan to modify them: given rectangular ridges, they mounted a device for shooting infrared traps that protect aircraft from missiles with thermal homing. However, destined for the Soviet Air Force Su-24M later series aerodynamic ridges were absent, preserved only in the export version of the aircraft.
The official testing of the new version took place from December 1976 through May 1981. A decree of the government of 22th June 1983 put the plane into service under the name Su-24M. According to experts, the combat effectiveness of the Su-24M was 1.5-2 higher than that of the Su-24.
The first series production Su-24M was flight tested on 20th June 1979 by the factory's test pilot V.T. Vylomov and test navigator G.V. Gridusov. Production of the Su-24M was set up in Novosibirsk, with the same work division of tasks as before with the Komsomolsk-on-Amur plant. Later on, due to the high workload of the Gagarin plant connected with the setting up of production of the Su-27, an order of the ministry released it from the obligation to deliver assemblies for the Su-24 starting in 1980. From then on, the production of all the assemblies in question was set up in Novosibirsk. The first series Su-24Ms were delivered to the USSR Air Forces in June 1981, the pilots of the 4th CEC (Voronezh) being the first to fly them. Service testing of the plane was conducted in 1985-86. The Su-24M was in production till 1993.
The main difference between the Su-24M and the Su-24 was replacing the "Cougars" for a perfected and reliable PNS-24 - PNS-24M PrNK "Tiger", greatly improving the accuracy of shooting and bombing from aircraft, and to ensure the application of new precision-guided munitions (in particular - air bombs). As part of the "Tiger" saved search radar "Orion-A" and terrain following radar "Relief". The "Tiger," includes 13 sub-systems, including pulse-Doppler radar "Orion-A" Radar following terrain "Relief", electro-optical (laser TV) sighting system, "Kaira-24" laser-television system (LTPS) with a laser rangefinder and designator-television overview unit, and the "Fantasmogoriya" unit for controlling X-58 anti-radiation missiles for attacking radar stations.
In addition, the aircraft received the inertial navigation system, instead of "Seagull" set the laser television sighting system (LTPS) "Kaira-24" with a laser rangefinder, target designator and television Surveillance unit (this system allows the crew to use corrected munitions not only in the dive, but and level flight). On the ventral pylon provides for the possibility of suspension container reconnaissance and target designation for anti-radar missiles "Phantasmagoria", replacd "Owl".
Navigation equipment of the Su-24M provides access to the target area in the mode of autonomous navigation routing and after the job to automatically return to the airfield and landing approach in bad weather to a height of 40-50 meters. There airborne defense (GER) "Carpathians", counters air defense and includes habitats warning radar illumination, teplopelengator notifying the crew of the approaching enemy aircraft rockets, Jammer and ejection device decoys.
Available weapon control system FCS-1-6M is interfaced with the onboard digital computer TS8U-10-058K. Aircraft are also equipped with airborne defense "Carpathians", including a station warning radar illumination SPO-15, teplopelengator LO-82 station setting jamming SPS-161, the APP-50 control unit.
The aircraft carries a bombing, guided and unguided missiles and cannons. The Su-24 has a built-in six-gun, 30 millimeters (GSH-30-6) or 23 millimeter (GSH-6-23) with ammunition 500 rounds (depending on version), positioned at the left air intake.
Armament is placed on eight external hard points, four underwing (including two swivel and two fixed under the center) and four ventral. All nodes of the Su-24 can carry gravity bombs caliber from 100 to 1500 kg, single cluster bombs and small-sized cargo containers KMGU-2.
Unguided Missile weapons include blocks unguided rockets caliber from 57 to 370 millimeters. Su-24M can carry bombs adjustable: up to four KAB-500Kr TV-guided KAB-500L or laser-guided, two CC-1500L laser-guided. The structure of managed missiles Su-24 includes guided missiles (SD) X-23 anti-radar and radio command guidance UR X-28 and X-58.
Su-24M can carry a wide range of air-surface guided missiles with non-nuclear warheads, including various options for missiles with active and passive radio command, laser and TV-guided Kh-25, X-29, X-58 and X-59.
Instead of the "capricious" X-28, the Su-24M aircraft can carry less complex powder anti-radar missiles Kh-58. In addition, recently completed his armor-speed anti-radiation X UR-31P, able to deal with the "Patriot" type of SAM and not currently available analogs in the world.
For the defeat of strong ground targets at a distance of 40 kilometers Su-24M can carry two X UR-59 operated by the operator from the aircraft on the television channel. An improved modification of the rocket - X-59M equipped with turbojet engine and has a range of over 100 kilometers (its counterparts in the US are ur AGM-142 "keV NEP", which is equipped with B-52 bombers, as well as SLAM, with 1991 come into service attack aircraft carrier-based aircraft A-6 "Intruder" and F / A-18D "Hornet"). In addition, the missile arsenal includes Su-24M SD short-range radio command, a laser, or TV-guided Kh-25 and Kh-29 of various modifications (US counterparts of these missiles is emeystvo missiles AGM-65 "Maveric"). On the outer underwing pylons suspended four guided missiles air-to-P-60M, serving for self-defense. The aircraft can carry bombs adjustable: up to four KAB-500Kr with TV or KAB-500L laser-guided, two KAB-1500 with laser-guided or TV, as well as a wide range of bombs, containers and NAR.
The fairing below the middle part of the fuselage on the starboard side are fitted with the six-barreled gun GS-6-23M. The external sites provide for suspension of up to three mobile gun systems SPPU-6 GS-6-23M. As a weapon of self-defense aircraft can be used SD-class "air-to-air" with thermal homing (CBC) R-60 (R-60M).
Su-24M was the first Soviet tactical aircraft, equipped with a system of in-flight refueling (fuel retractable receiver raazmeschen to canopy pilots). As tankers used Su-24M with suspended units ORM-A or specialized tankers Il-78.
A normal Su-24 Fencer attack sequence begins with the crew flying towards a known target, using the on-board navigation systems. The weapon systems officer then refines the target location using radar or infrared (IR) sensors. These sensors cannot detect targets hidden behind shadows caused by intervening terrain or obstacles. Small point targets, or aim points in complex urban environments are particularly difficult to detect.
If the target is not identifiable on the sensor, the pilot can release the bomb on coordinates. The computer constantly updates the release point, based on the weapon’s ballistic characteristics and the aircraft’s flight data. However, without global positioning systems (GPS) updates to the aircraft navigation systems, this technique may result in significant miss-distances.
This may explain the reports of Russian “carpet bombing.” Gusty winds and high altitude releases, typical in mountainous terrain, further degrade the accuracy of system deliveries. After the pilot gives consent by depressing the “pickle button,” the aircraft’s bombing computer releases the weapon.
Proficient Fencer aircrews using computed deliveries should normally place bombs within 200 feet of the target in any weather. To improve the odds of destroying the target, the crew may release multiple weapons, singularly or in pairs, sequentially to form a “string” of bombs. Ideally, this pattern will intersect the target and one or more weapons will achieve the desired results. The remaining weapons, impacting off-target, may cause serious collateral damage.
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