Su-30M (MK-export version) is a standard Su-30 with the air-to-ground missiles which can carry twice the armament (8 tons) compared to the baseline Su-27. The Su-30 'export variant' of the formidable Su-27 'Flanker', can carry the latest Russian air-to-air missiles, including the medium-range R-27 family, the short-range R-73 and the new medium-range R-77 'AMRAAM-ski'. The Sukhoi-30K has a range in excess of 3,000km, which means it can easily patrol offshore installations without requiring aerial refuelling.
Derived from the famous Sukhoi aircraft family - Su-27UBK, Su-30K, Su-35, Su-37 - the Su-30MK epitomises a "universal air warrior", capable of accomplishing a wide variety of combat missions at significant distances from the home base, in any weather conditions and severe jamming environment, both by day and night.
This multirole aircraft is adequately fitted for the entire spectrum of tactical and operational combat employment scenarios, varying from counterair tasks (i.e. gaining air superiority, air defence, air patrol and escort) to counterland and countersea ones (suppression of hostile air defence, air interdiction and close air support). Additionally, the Su-30MK can perform ECCM and early warning tasks, as well as exercise command-and-control over a group of aerial combat assets performing joint mission. Due to duplicated flight control system, it can be also employed for realistic flight and combat training.
The Su-30MK aerodynamic configuration is an unstable-in-longitude triplane. To increase lifting effectiveness and enhance manoeuvrability of the aircraft, the canards are installed. They are deflected automatically to ensure flight at high angle-of-attack.
The integrated aerodynamic configuration, combined with the thrust vectoring control capability, results in unprecedented manoeuvrability and unique take-off and landing characteristics. Equipped with a digital "fly-by-wire" system, Su-30MK is capable of performing a number of feat manoeuvres to counter missile threats and to dominate in dogfight. They include well-known "cobra" and "bell", as well as new ones, which cannot be performed by any other aircraft. The while performing a "somersault" manoeuvre, the aircraft makes 360-deg turn in pitch plane without any loss of altitude. In "controlled flat spin" manoeuvre, the aircraft performs several full turns in horizontal plane, with zero forward speed, virtually on the spot.
The power plant incorporates two AL-31FP by-pass turbojet reheated engines. The total 25,000-kgf afterburning thrust ensures 2M horizontal flight speed, 1,350-km/h speed at low altitude, and a 230-m/s climbing rate.
Differential ~+mn~15-deg deflection of engines' axisymmetric nozzles (with turn axes positioned at 32-deg angle to each other) enables pitch/yaw thrust vectoring control. Depending on the manoeuvre to be performed, nozzles deflections can be synchronised with or differ from the deflections of horizontal tail planes.
Substantial fuel reserve, together with in-flight refuelling capability, significantly diversifies stand off combat employment options, varying from prolonged patrols and escorts, to long-range interceptions and air-to-ground strikes. With a normal fuel reserve of 5,270 kg, the Su-30MK is capable of performing a 4.5-hour combat mission. An in-flight refuelling system increases the flight duration up to 10 hours with a range of 8,000 km at cruise altitude of 11 to 13 km. Additionally, two-member crew configuration contributes significantly to enhanced combat capabilities, due to rational distribution of workload between crewmembers. While the first pilot flies aircraft, controls weapons and performs manoeuvring dogfight, the co-pilot employs BVR air-to-air and air-to-ground guided weapons in long-range engagements, monitors tactical environment to ensure situational awareness, and performs command-and-control tasks in group missions.
If compared with the predecessor, the Su-30 MK avionics suite features a number of advanced components, including: integrated radar sighting system capable of detecting and tracking up to 15 air targets, while simultaneously attacking four of them; integrated optronic sighting-and-navigation system with a laser gyro navigation system; helmet-mounted displays, head-up-display, multi-function colour LCDs with image mixing capability; GPS system (GLONASS/NAVSTAR compatible).
The powerful general-purpose phased-array radar (featuring a 20-m resolution) ensures detection of large sea-surface targets at a distance of up to 400 km, and small-size ones - at a distance of up to 120 km. In preliminary long-range aiming mode, the radar locks on the target automatically, with co-ordinates transferred into the navigation system. Then the radar is switched-off and the aircraft flies toward the target in radar-silenced mode. At near-maximum range of weapon employment, aiming means are engaged to update targeting data, and weapon system is employed against the target. Short time of radar illumination ensures concealed approach of the aircraft to the target, thus contributing to the mission success.
The IR and laser sighting pods to detect and engage small-size ground targets are available for installation. The aircraft is provided with an ECCM facility intended to subvert hostile electronic and electro-optical countermeasures. The aircraft features an automatic piloting capability at all flight stages including low-altitude flight in terrain-following mode, as well as individual and group combat employment against air and ground/sea-surface targets. Automatic control system interconnected with the navigation system ensures route-flight, target approach, recovery to airfield and landing approach in automatic mode.
With diversified weaponry mix and up-to-date avionics suite installed, the SU-30MK is able to destroy multiple aerial threats (including those with low RCS) in dogfight and pre-emptive long-range engagements, as well as to hit ground/sea-surface targets with guided/unguided weapons at both tactical and operational depth.
The Su-30MK combat load is mounted on the 12 hard points. In addition to the built-in one-barrel GSh-301 gun (30-mm calibre, 150 rounds) and a number of air-to-air and air-to-surface radar guided, TV-guided, and IR homing missiles, the aircraft can carry the 500-kg unguided bombs and the KAB-500 and KAB-1500 TV- and laser-guided aerial bombs to hit ships with water displacement of up to 5000 tons.
The aircraft weaponry also includes the Kh-31P anti-radiation missile and the Kh-59ME long-range TV-guided missile (with a 120-km range and 2-3-meter guidance accuracy), which - after the missile is launched - transmits the target's image to the aircraft for correcting the flight path.
In May 2002 it was reported that studies in a Boeing simulator complex show that the Su-30MK can defeat an F-15C "every time" by using a combination beyond visual range (BVR) attack with an AA-12, followed by a close approach and attack with an IR-guided AA-11. The Su-30 penetrates the F-15's Doppler radar net because it can rapidly dump speed to zero relative to the F-15, then attack from below and accelerate away. Similar tactics, say the analysts, would not work against an F-22 or F-35. The maneuver also requires great pilot skill, of a level very rare outside leading Western powers. It is also possible that the test is set up to justify purchase of the F-22 and F-35 along with various new air-to-air missiles. Critics point out that the maneuver will also not work against the F-16 and F-18, since with their smaller radar signatures they are not so vulnerable to the BVR portion of the attack.
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