Ihe Su-30KN upgrade proposed by the Irkutsk plant adds a new mission computer, an extra channel to the weapons control system, a new AMLCD cockpit display, and upgrades the N-001 radar to a new standard. The formal state certification of the upgraded Sukhoi Su-30KN 'Flanker' fighter was signed on 9 November 2001, according to an executive in the Irkutsk-based IAPO aircraft factory. This opened the way for the serial modernisation of Russian Air Force aircraft. The Stage I upgrade enables the Su-30 to fire X-31A, X-31P and X-29T air-to-surface missiles and KAB-500 guided bombs. It also adds R-77/RVV-AE missile to the list of its air-to-air weapons. The Stage II upgrade, applied to aircraft that underwent Stage I upgrade, enhances their air-to-air capability through replacing the RLPK-27's original slotted antenna with a phased-array antenna featuring digital beam control (electronic scanning).
The concept of the Su-30KN multirole combat aircraft was initially originated as the program of in-depth upgrade of the Su-30 long-range fighter-interceptor. The fact of the matter is that due to substantial design innovation capacity, the Su-30 aircraft offers vast opportunities for advancing its combat capabilities by diversifying employment options.
The Irkutsk Aviation Industrial Association, jointly with Sukhoi Design Bureau, "Russkaya Avionika" Design Bureau and Russia's Air Force, developed a cost-effective upgrade solution to turn an operational Su-30K fighter into a multirole combat aircraft.
With a number of advanced systems added into an operational fighter-interceptor, the upgraded aircraft features enhanced air-to-air capabilities, combined with an impressive set of counterland and countersea high-precision strike options. The upgraded avionics have only 30-kg weight surplus. It means that the customers will have to pay substantially less for the on-site upgrade of an operational fighter to obtain a full set of multirole options, than for a brand-new multirole aircraft. Besides, all upgrade options may be integrated into new multirole Su-30KN aircraft.
Adapted for operations in adverse weather conditions and severe jamming environment, both by day and night, the Su-30KN (upgraded Su-30K) aircraft is capable of performing:
- offensive/defensive counterair tasks to attain and maintain air superiority while engaging aerial targets at short/long distances in free aerospace and against surface background;
- a variety of counterland combat tasks including high-precision strikes against high-priority targets at tactical and operational depth, suppression of hostile air defence with anti-radiation missiles, and close air support of friendly units with guided/unguided air-to-ground weaponry;
- countersea tasks to engage and defeat separate ships and ship groupings beyond the reach of their anti-aircraft means.
The Su-30KN combat effectiveness is enhanced due to:
- high flight performance and manoeuvring characteristics inherited from the basic platform;
- expanded info capabilities of upgraded avionics site;
- introduction of low/medium/high-resolution mapping capabilities into the on-board radar;
- ability to employ almost any air-to-surface high-precision weapon made in Russia;
- ability to interact with other similar aircraft while carrying out mission in group;
- data exchange capability with ground command posts and ground/shipborne/seashore missile strike means.
The aircraft is able to perform covert "radar-silenced" approach and automatic location of the target, thus improving greatly combat mission success probability.
The following avionics components enhance combat effectiveness:
- the SUV-30K weapons management system, upgraded to ensure employment of expanded set of weapons;
- upgraded radar with surface mapping capability allowing detection of ground/surface targets and their engagement in any weather, by day and night;
- navigation system comprising the A-737-010 GPS receiver compatible with GLONASS and NAVSTAR systems;
- two MFI-55 multifunction colour displays (instead of line-of-sight indicators) to ensure tactical information presentation on the surface radar map over;
- additional computers, emergency warning system, and jamming system.
To perform counter-air/land/sea tasks, the multirole Su-30KN is able to employ:
- 30-mm GSh-301 single-barrel rapid-firing cannon with an ammunition load of 150 rounds;
- R-27R1, R-27ER1 air-to-air missiles with semi-active radar guidance;
- R-27T1, R-27ET1 air-to-air medium-range IR homing missiles;
- R-73E air-to-air short-range IR-homing missiles;
- RVV-AE air-to-air medium-range missiles with active radar homing head;
- Kh-31P medium-range anti-radiation missiles (with 110-km range);
- Kh-31A medium-range anti-ship missiles with active radar guidance (with 50-km range);
- Kh-59ME medium-range air-to-surface TV-guided missiles (with 115-km range);
- Kh-29T (TE) short-range air-to-surface TV-guided missiles (with 30-km range);
- KAB-500 and KAB-1500 guided bombs (with up to 5-km and 8-km release altitude, respectively).
- unguided air bombs and rockets.
Missiles on launchers, rockets in launching pods, and bombs mounted on beam racks (including multiple ones) can be employed from ten out of twelve hard points.
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