Irkut/HAL Su-30MKI Air Dominance Fighter


Su-30MKI is a long-range, high-endurance, heavy-class Air Dominance Fighter with multi mission capabilities. It is currently the most advanced version of Su-27 Flanker flying anywhere in the world. The Su-27, which was first produced in the Former Soviet Union starting 1982 is counted among the world's best fighter aircraft even without any upgardes; but some of the the technology and capability that the Su-30MKI boasts has absolutely no parallels across the world's air forces. The Su-30MKI gives its operator, the Indian Air Force, a capability that will remain unmatched by all rivals for the forseeable future.
This document has been divided into the following sections:
Evolution of the Flanker
World aviation today cannot be conceived of without the Su-27, a legendary aircraft. The Su-27 which formed the basic platform that has spawned countless derivatives has became the core of Russia’s combat aviation and Russian arms exports today. The Su-27 is seen as a befitting response by Sukhoi to the challenge of the West - the U.S. F-15 air superiority fighter.
In the fall of 1969, Pavel Sukhoi, head of the Sukhoi Experimental Design Bureau, launched the T-10 project at his own initiative. The designers faced a most challenging task of developing an aircraft that would surpass the U.S. fighter which had overall technological superiority.
On 20-May-1977, famous test pilot Vladimir Ilyushin took the Sukhoi T-10-1 for its first flight from the test center Zhukovski. However, before the aircraft could be put into series production it had to be drastically redesigned. There were very serious reasons for that - the designers of onboard equipment and missiles exceeded weight limits. The redesign work was headed by a design team woven around Mikhail Simonov. (See Mikahil Simonov Interview)
 A comparison of the original design (in black) with the production Su-27
The original Su-27 design was rejected
The Design Bureau and cooperating enterprises were set the task to find bold, unorthodox solutions in the project, and to improve every component of the plane, its onboard equipment and armament.
The Su-27 for the first time incorporated solutions proposed for integrated supersonic designs in the 1950s by brilliant aircraft designer and scientist Robert Bartini (1897-1974). Pavel Sukhoi used Bartini’s ideas in the T-10 design. This is why the Su-27’s load-bearing airframe features high lift, low drag, air flow down-suction throughout the wingspan, and shock-free air flow in the area blending wing and it is leading-edge root extensions. The Su-27 is the world’s only fighter in which leading-edge root extensions reduce, rather than increase, drag. These solutions, combined with perfect design and minimal structural weight, provided much space for fuel and equipment, ensuring an exceptional flight range on internal fuel.
The Su-27 markedly enhanced the Soviet Air Force’s combat potential. NATO immediately saw the difference. In the previous years, the SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft often flew into Soviet airspace over the Kola Peninsula to check readiness of the Soviet Air Defense. The Su-27, with its high flight performance and perfect multichannel avionics system, sharply changed the situation, intercepting SR-71 aircraft in Soviet airspace.
The F-16 fighter is considered by many as an american aerodynamic standard. However, this effort was clearly eclipsed by the remarkable qualities of the Su-27.
The real triumph for the Su-27 came in 1989 when it made its first public appearance at the world’s largest air show Le Bourget near Paris. It was here that the now famous 'Cobra' maneuver was premiered in the West. The pilot at the controls was Victor Pugachev - hence the Cobra is often called the 'Pugachev Cobra'.
A note on the designation 'Su-30MKI': 'Su' stands for a production fighter designed by the USSR/Russia's famed Sukhoi Experimental Designed Bureau. Su-30 derived from the Su-27UB, which is the twin-seat trainer-combat version of the Su-27. Therefore all Su-30 versions are twin seat (except for Su-30KI). 'MK' is a Russian acronym for Mordernised-Commercial (not 'Multirole') while 'I' stands for Indiski(India) in the Su-30MKI, while 'K' stands for Kitei(China) in the Su-30MKK. Names apart, there are many central differences between the Su-30MKK and Su-30MKI
* The sheer number of Su-27 variants is bewildering to say the least. Many developments have been made in 'parallel' over the decades, and hence there is no single timeline for the MKI. This space is not enough for discussing the many variants, and hence only some are discussed here.
The first Su-27 variant with TVC was a Su-27UB designated "T-10-16" or the "LL-PS" (flying testbed - flat nozzle), built by by Sukhoi in 1989.
The Chief Designer for the export Su-30MK is Alexcy Knyshev. According to Knyshev, the Su-30MK is capable of performing all tactical tasks of the Su-24 Fencer deep interdiction tactical bomber and the Su-27Flanker A/B/C air superiority fighter while having around twice the combat range and 2.5 times the combat effectiveness (Sukhoi numbers).
Russia vigourously promoted the Su-30. It has made regular airshow appearances after its debut at Paris AirShow 1999. However, initially the displayed aircrat was a Su-27UB which only carried a wide variety of air to ground misles (which it could not launch). The weapons were KAB-500KR TV guided bomb, Kh-29T and Kh-59M. At that moment there was no Su-30M nor Su-30MK, only the Su-27PUs were renamed as Su-30 (probably for marketing purposes). The real prototype of Su-30MK was converted from a Su-27PU in 1996. The modification included enlarged fins, the addtion of 2 underwing pylons (now to 8) and the carnard foreplanes similar to those of the Su-35 (or Su-27M).
The Su-30MKI combines the featurs of the Su-37 (Left) and Su-30MK (Right) and adds many more enhancements
The Unstable Longitudal Triplane configuration in a Flanker was seen in the Su-35 or Su-27M. It is in limited service with the VVS-PVO and lacks TVC. TVC was added to the Su-35 and hence the Su-37 (#711) was born. On its debut at Farnborough in 1996, it stunned the world just like the Su-27 did in 1989. So great was its influence, that it stole the show from the Eurofighter, which also made its debut there. The Pilot was Yevgeny Frolov, Hero Of Russia.
The first twin-seat flanker with TVC and canards took off for the first time on July 1, 1997 at the hands V.J. Aver'janov. This prototype '#56' was later re-numbered to T-10MK-1, which was officially the first Su-30MKI prototype. The versions that were ultimately delievered to the IAF (SB019 onwards) bear the designation T10-PMK-01.
Acquisition/Production Plans
The SU-30MKI is the first Russian aircraft designed in collaboration with a foreign customer. It was born when the IAF decided to acquire the Su-30MK and include modifications according to its needs. Its competitor was the Mirage-2000-5, an excellent multirole aircraft in its own right. It had the advantage over the Su-30 given that the IAF was extremely satisfied with the results from the Mirage-2000H. However, the SU-30MKI was found to be a lot cheaper than the Mirage-2000-5, which ultimately proved to be the deciding factor.
The induction of the Su-30 into the IAF is a bit confusing for some. This is due to the fact that three different deals where signed, delays in the program and also due the fact that IAF has been operating Su-30s (since 1997) which are not Su-30MKIs but Su-30MKs. However, since they are being operated by the IAF, they are referred to as Su-30MKIs by some. Here Su-30MKI refers to the final version of the aircraft, and not those which saw service with the IAF since 1997.
On July 24, 1994 an Indian delegation headed by the CAS of the IAF arrived in Russia to evaluate the aircraft.
Deal I (30 Nov 1996) : The IAF signed a US $1462 million (equivalent to Rs 5122 crore) deal with Sukhoi on 30 November 1996 for the delivery of 40 Su-30 aircraft and the associated equipment from the Irkutsk plant in phased manner, spread out over four years - from 1997 to 2000. The contract provided for setting up of a Service Support Centre in India which was to undertake extended second line repair tasks of aircraft, avionics, aero-engines and aggregates to avoid the need to despatch them to the manufacturer.
Under this original contract, Su-30s would be delivered to the IAF in four batches:
  • The first batch (Su-30MK-I) of 8 aircraft would be delivered in 1997. These were 'standard' Su-30s (a development of the Su-27UB) and contained 100% (probably) Russian components and are primarily sir-superiority aircraft only. These fighters were first delivered to India at Lohegaon AFS in March 1997. They were inducted into the IAF on 11 June 1997 by the then Prime Minister, Inder Kumar Gujral. These planes are currently in service with IAF with serial nos SB001 to SB008 in the No. 24 Hawks squadron based at Lohegaon AFS.
  • The second batch (Su-30MK-IIs) of another 8 aircraft would be delivered in 1998 and would be fitted with Sextant Avionique's avionics from France, liquid crystal multi-function displays (MFDs), a new flight data recorder, a dual ring laser gyro INS (inertial navigation system) with embedded GPS (Global Positioning Satellite), EW (Electronic Warfare) equipment procured from Israel's IAI (Israeli Aircraft Industries), a new electro-optical targeting system and a RWR (Radar Warning Receiver).
  • The third batch (Su-30MK-IIIs) of 12 aircraft would be delivered in 1999 and would feature canard foreplanes
  • The fourth and final batch (Su-30MKIs) of 12 aircraft would be delivered in 2000 and would add the AL-31FP turbofans.
Su-30MK (SB003) sandwiched by a MiG-29 and Jaguar IS at Lohegaon AFS
The first 32 aircraft already delivered would then be upgraded to the Su-30MKI variant, in a phased manner. This plan was thought of because Su-30MKI would be the world's first of its kind, and not all technologies were completely developed in other Russian designs like the Su-35 and Su-37.
Deal II (September 1998) : The IAF decided to buy 10 additional Su-30Ks for US $277.01 million (equivalent to Rs.1187 crore) and thus bring the total number of IAF Su-30s on order to 50. These 10 were originally destined for Indonesia, but due to the financial crisis there Indonesia was unable to take delivery. The first 4 units were delivered in June 1999. These have updated electronic warfare suites, PGM (Precision Guided Munitions) capability and possibly updated radar. These planes are currently in service with IAF with serial nos SB009 to SB018 in the No. 24 Hawks squadron based at Lohegaon AFS.
IAF Su-30K
IAF was to take delivery the 2nd batch of aircraft(Su-30MK-IIs) in 1998. However this was postponed due to delay specifying the requirements for the advanced avionics (French,Israeli and Indian). In March 1998 the agreements were signed with the concerned firms. The crash of the first Su-30MKI prototype T-10PMK-1 ("blue 01") at the Paris airshow did not help matters.
Later it was decided to take delivery of full-standard Su-30MKIs directly and hence doing away with the upgradation and to avoid different grades of one aircraft in service at the same time. Also, the development of the Su-30MKI was nearing completion and first buying some airframes and then upgrading them is an avoidable hassle. Hence, all future deliveries would be Su-30MKIs. The first 4 Su-30MKI arrived in India, again at Lohegaon AFS in semi-knocked-down (SKD) form on June 22, 2002. After assembly,they were test flown initially by Russian test pilots on 25-July-2002. The first flight by an Indian pilot in India happened on 14-Aug-2002. The first 18 aircraft (8 Su-30MK-I and 10 Su- 30K) will be upgraded locally by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The upgrade is to be completed by 2004-2005.
Deal III (October-December 2000) : A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed allowing the license production of 140 Su-30MKIs and in December 2000, the deal was sealed in Russia at the IAPO factory. The deal combines license production with full technology transfer and hence called a 'Deep License'. For instance, HAL Koraput will also produce 920 AL-31FP engines, while the mainframe and other accessories will be manufactured at HAL's Lucknow and Hyderabad Divisions. Final integration of the aircraft and its test flight would be carried out at HAL's Ozhar (Nasik) Division. The original plans called for the first Su-30MKIs from Nasik to be delivered to the IAF in 2004-05, with production increasing to a peak of 10 aircraft per year from 2007-08 onward at this rate the production would have stretched to 2017-18. At Air Force Commander's Conference held in Oct-2002, the Air Chief Marshal Krishnaswamy, asked the HAL to complete the project in 10 years. This was confirmed by N.R.Mohanty on 12-Nov-2002 while speaking to the press [6]. Therefore, the new schedule would mean that a maximum of 14 planes per year will be churned out by HAL and hence finishing in 2013. The original costs of Rs. 20,000 Cr remained as it is, even though such an action is expected to raise costs. According to Mohanty, HAL planned to counter the inflation by "outsourcing in low and medium type jobs while the critical items will be HAL's own."
Deal IV (May 2005?) : It was originally planned that the 24 Sqn aircraft will be upgraded to the Su-30MKI Phase-III standard once the delivery is complete. However, the latest Russian offer is to replacethese aircraft with newly built airframes at $270 Million in 2007. The reasoning being that some of the aircraft have already aged quite a bit - the first ones entered service in 1997. More importantly, the upgraded airframes would not have the same capability as the new airframes. The offer has reportedly cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council, but the exact status is not known at the moment.
Deal V: Another 40 Su-30MKI were contracted from Russia.
 Cannot Be Enlarged
Irkut factory in Russia with what seem to be Su-30MKIs (Left)
and HAL MiG-21 assembly line (Right)
End Result : IAF will eventually acquire a total of 230 Su-30MKI. Out of these 90 will be made in Russia by Irkutsk Aircraft Production Association (IAPO) while the rest will be produced in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Production might be increased if necessary. HAL chairman Nalini Ranjan Mohanty has said that the Indian-built Su-30s will cost only about $22.5 million a unit against the current import price of about $37.5 million [5].
The first Su-30MKI were delivered by IAPO on June 22, 2002 aboard an An-124. 2 more followed in the same month. The first batch of 10 Su-30MKIs were inducted into the Indian Air Force on 27-Sep-2002 at Lohegaon AFS where the No. 20 Lightnings was constituted. The Phase-III aircraft deliveries were completed by Dec 2004, when around the same time the first HAL assembled Su-30MKIs rolled out. By 2006 it is expected that Phase I and II aircraft will be up to the latest standard.
a picture from the Rhinos' re-raising ceremony in 2004. Cannot be enlarged.
The 31 Squadron is the latest IAF unit to be equipped with the Su-30MKI.
India's Defence Minister George Fernandes laid the foundation stone of a new HAL factory at Sunabeda (20 kms from Koraput, Orissa) on Dec 15, 2002. This brand new facility is licenced to produce 1200 AL-31FPs. It is said that the manufacture of the AL-31FP engine "involved 31 new technologies required to be adopted and mastered" (
Is the development of the Su-30MKI complete? The originally envisaged goals for the program have been achieved with the delivery of the Phase-III aircraft. However, the development is not being frozen. Future updates are planned - including the airframe and radar (read below).
The Su-30MKI in the IAF
The induction of the Su-30 was'nt without its share of problems. The average servicibility of the 10 Su-30MKs fell to 69% during 1997-1998 and further reduced to 62% 1998-1999. Similarly, the average availability of SU-30K aircraft for operations also declined from six aircraft in 1997-98 to four aircraft in 1998-99, out of total strength of eight aircraft. This happened because the MoD did not order spares for the aircraft and the IAF was using spares supplied at the time of induction - supplied back in 1997. The MoD finally signed the general spares contract in January 1999.
Problems were multiplied due to the poor poduct support from the manufacturers. Apart from delivery of eight SU-30K aircraft during 1997 the manufacturer was required to supply 72 associated equipment like tyres, brake parachutes, specialist vehicles etc. valuing US $ 347.85 million, equivalent to Rs 1252.25 crore during 1997-2000 in a phased manner. The contract explicitly stipulated that equipment to be delivered by the manufacturer would be new, unused, of current production and serviceable. However, the a large percentage of the equipment delivered by the manufacturer between 1997 and 1998 was old, used, corroded, defective and unserviceable, though full payment had been made. For example, the specialist vehicles supplied were old, corroded and inoperable and others items like parachutes were torn and damaged. Aircraft tyres were found to have cut marks during initial inspection. The IAF made 48 claims from sukhoi but only 15 were cleared as of July 1999.
Today the IAF operates at least 4 Su-30MKI squadrons. The pioneer No 24 Sqn has retired its 'vanilla' Su-30MK/K and replaced with MKIs. The No. 20 Sqn's pilots and crews were initially drawn from the first Sukhoi unit i.e. No.24 Hawks with which it shared Lohegaon AFS. It was considered to shift 24 Sqn to Chandigarh or Halwara to make space for 30 Sqn. Both Chandigarh and Halwara airbases have experience in handling the Su-30 - it is here that they are based when required to make a flypast on India's annual Republic Day (Jan 26), Air Force Day (Oct 08) and other such occasions. Ultimately 24 Sqn was housed at Bareilly.
Being the first in the service to operate the type, the No 20's task was to develop the doctrine for the MKI’s capabilities and hence was scheduled with a lot of training flights.
A sign of increasing confidence of the IAF in the Su-30MKI is the wider range of tasks being assigned to them - recently it has come to light that the 20 Sqn is also training for the maritime role. This often entails flying for long hours over the sea, which is considered difficult due to lack of navigation aids on the 'ground'.
Even though the vanilla Su-30K aircraft were meant to be upgraded to MKI standard the significant differences meant that the only viable option was to replace the aircraft completely. New build MKIs were supplied to replace them to 24 Sqn.
UnitLocationAirframesSerial No.s
No. 24 Sqn AF
Bareilly AFS
08 Su-30MK (Retired)SB001 to SB008
10 Su-30K (Retired)SB009 to SB018
??? Su-30MKI???
No. 20 Sqn AF
(Bareilly or Jodhpur?)
10 Su-30MKI Phase-ISB019 to SB028
?? Su-30MKI Phase-IISB029 to ???
No. 30 Sqn AF
(Jamnagar or Tezpur?)
??? Su-30MKI
No. 8 Sqn AF
Lohegaon AFS
??? Su-30MKI
No. 31 Sqn AF
??? AFS
??? Su-30MKI
Su-30MK (Retired) Ex 24 Sqn
> Painted in temporary tri-colour scheme for R-Day Parade.
> Flypast @ Su-30MKI Induction ceremony, Lohegaon AFS (27.Sep.2002)
> Ex Cope India 2006, Kalaikunda AFS (Nov 2005)
> Painted in temporary tri-colour scheme for R-Day Parade
> Painted in temporary tri-colour scheme for R-Day Parade.
> Flypast @ Su-30MKI Induction ceremony, Lohegaon AFS (27.Sep.2002)
> Painted in temporary tri-colour scheme for R-Day Parade.
Su-30K (Retired) Ex 24 Sqn
> Deployed to Istres AFB, France (Ex Grauda II, Jun 2005)
> Ex Cope India 2006, Kalaikunda AFS (Nov 2005)
> Flypast @ Su-30MKI Induction ceremony, Lohegaon AFS (27.Sep.2002)
> Deployed to Istres AFB, France (Ex Grauda II, Jun 2005)
> Ex Cope India 2006, Kalaikunda AFS (Nov 2005)
> Deployed to Istres AFB, France (Ex Grauda II, Jun 2005)
> Static display @ Chennai Air Show, Old Meenambakkam Airport (31.Aug.2003)
> Deployed to Istres AFB, France (Ex Grauda II, Jun 2005)
> Ex Cope India 2006, Kalaikunda AFS (Nov 2005)
> Static Display @ Vayu Sena Diwas, Palam AFS (08.Oct.2002)
> Deployed to Istres AFB, France (Ex Grauda II, Jun 2005)
> Ex Cope India 2006, Kalaikunda AFS (Nov 2005)
> Static Display @ Su-30MKI Induction ceremony, Lohegaon AFS (27.Sep.2002)
> Radome was seen in ealier photographs with a light grey colour covering two-thirds of the length
> Static Display; Open Day at AFS Lohegaon
> Deployed to Istres AFB, France (Ex Grauda II, Jun 2005)
Su-30MKI Phase-I
> Static Display @ Begumpet Air Port, Hyderabad (07.May.2003)
> Flying Display @ Aeroindia 2003, Yelahanka AFS, Piloted by 20 Sqn CO Jamwal
> Static Display @ Mumbai Airshow Chatrapathi Shivaji International Air Port (14.Oct.2004)
> Confirmed 20 Sqn
> Flypast @ Su-30MKI Induction ceremony, Lohegaon, Piloted by 20 Sqn CO Jamwal (27.Sep.2002)
>Static display at Nagpur Air Show
> Static Display @ Aeroindia 2003, Yelahanka AFS (05-09.Feb.2003)
Su-30MKI Phase-II
> Aeroindia 2005 Yelahanka AFS - reserve for flying display
> Confirmed 30 Sqn
> Static Display @ Aeroindia 2005 Yelahanka AFS
> Confirmed 30 Sqn
> Flying Display @ Aeroindia 2005 Yelahanka AFS
> Confirmed 30 Sqn
It is unclear how these aircraft have been distributed between the No.20 and No.30 Squadrons.
Su-30MKI Phase-III (Irkut)
> Confirmed 30 Sqn
> Confirmed 30 Sqn
> Ex Red Flag 2008, Nellis AFB (trf to 20 Sqn?)
> Ex Red Flag 2008, Nellis AFB
> Ex Red Flag 2008, Nellis AFB
Last delivery Dec 2004. It is unclear how these aircraft have been distributed between the No.20 and No.30 Squadrons.
Su-30MKI Phase-III (HAL)
> First flight Oct 01, 2004.
> Commisioned into IAF 28.Nov.2004
> Ceremonial first flight piloted by P.M.Sergei and Wg Cdr T.R. Ajit Kumar
> Ex Red Flag 2008, Nellis AFB
> Air Force Day 2007
HAL has targetted FY 2014-15 for delivering the last Su-30MKI. Rate of production is reported to be 13 aircraft per annum [2], which would mean that atleast 20-25 aircraft have already been produced by HAL by the current financial year. However only SB101/2/3 have been sighted so far.
Camouflage Scheme The 24 Sqn airframes (both K and MK series) are all painted in a very pretty blue sky pattern. Some of these these fighters have their numeric serial applied below the cockpit, which is not the practice in the other current aircraft of the Indian Air Force, and generally has never been. Only the Gnat/Ajeet and Vampire fighter aircraft ever carried the serial printed in a large size, but near to the exhaust, nowhere near the nose. The stylized Hawks insignia was also seen in the Su-30MKs at least initially, but it seems that some no longer sport it and it was never painted on the Su-30Ks anyway. Also unusual was the word Hawks in bright red beside the Hawk logo. Only few squadrons have their nicknames written on their aircraft. Such aircraft include MiG-21s of the Ankush sqn. Some 20 Sqn aircraft have a stylized Lightnings insignia, a very welcome change on IAF aircraft in the post-matt-grey era.
At least four airframes of the Su-30MK series were temprarily dressed up in a ceremonial tri-colour scheme. The Dharma Chakra was also painted on the aircrafts' 'backs'. Originally the Su-30MK/Ks had a light grey radome, but over the years some machines have been noticed with a darker shade of grey, though not black. (Pictures)
Untill recently, the IAF never had any uniform camoflage scheme for its fleet, and it appears it was left to the units to decide how their machines looked. This is the reason for the inconsistent paint scheme throughout the IAF. However, since recent times all aircraft and even ground equipment like trucks and tractors also sport the Matt Grey livery.
Some aircraft have been applied with a black coat of paint around the canopy area, to reduce reflection. Airframes identified with this paint are; SB023, SB024, SB035, SB040 and SB102.
Airframe and Aerodynamics
The Su-30MKI is a highly integrated twin-finned aircraft. The airframe is constructed of titanium and high-strength aluminium alloys. The engine nacelles are fitted with trouser fairings to provide a continuous streamlined profile between the nacelles and the tail beams. The fins and horizontal tail consoles are attached to tail beams. The central beam section between the engine nacelles consists of the equipment compartment, fuel tank and the brake parachute container. The fuselage head is of semi-monocoque construction and includes the cockpit, radar compartments and the avionics bay. Su-30MKIs also have a high percentage of composites used in the air-frame - rumoured to be 6% by weight.
The Su-30MKI aerodynamic configuration is an unstable longitudinal triplane. The canard increases the aircraft lifting effectiveness. It deflects automatically and allows high angle-of- attack flights. The integral aerodynamic configuration combined with thrust vectoring results in practically unlimited manoeuvrability and unique taking off and landing characteristics.
 Cannot Be Enlarged
The Su-30MKI prototypes '01' (Left) and '06' (Right)
Stability and control are assured by a digital FBW. The canard notably assists in controlling the aircraft at large angles of attack (AoA) and bringing it to a level flight condition. The aircraft has a newly developed wing with increased relative thickness, accommodating a larger amount of fuel. The wing will have high-lift devices featured as deflecting leading edges and flaperons acting the flaps and ailerons. At subsonic flights, the wing profile curvature is changed by a remote control system which deflects the leading edges and flaperons versus the AoA (Angles of Attack).
The Su-30MKI will have a reinforced airframe in order to accommodate a weapons load of 17,650 lb (8,000 kg) compared with half that for the Su-30K, and the maximum takeoff weight is 38,800 kg versus 34,500 kg.
The term "super-maneuverability" was coined by Dr. Wolfgang Herbst, initiator of the USA's X-31 prototype program, in defining controllability up to 60° to 70° Angle-of-Attack with transients of 120° or more.
The Su-30MKI has no AoA limitations: it can fly at even 180 degree AoA and still recover. This high super-agility allows rapid deployment of weapons in any direction as desired by the crew. The addition of another seat means that the pilot is free to concentrate on flying the aircraft while the second pilot can engage targets.
Mikhail Simonov was stung by press criticism that this machine was appearing at airshows doing tailslides and Cobras without any underwing stores. So it was promptly fitted with a representative warload consisting of (from port wingtip) - AA-11, AA-11, AA-10, Kh-31P, 6 x OFAB-100-120 bombs on a MER fitted to the port lower intake, KAB-500KR on centreline pylon, Kh-29T on lower Stbd intake, Kh-59M, RVV-AE, AA-11, AA-11 and still did its full show routine! A similar performance was witnessed at an airshow where the Landing Gear could not retracted in a Su-37, but Yevgeny Frolov still went on do perform the show routine without any changes!
Planned for incorporation into the Su-30MKI fuselage on a progressive basis from 2006 through to 2017 on 114 of the 140 HAL-built Su-30MKI Mk3s are all-composite structures like wing spars and wing boxes, air intakes, fairing skins, fairing blocks, co-cured co-bonded fin and centre-fuselage components, elevators, rudder and its all-composite torque shaft, ailerons, belly fairings, landing gear doors, ceramic thermal barrier linings, and ceramic brake-pads. Interestingly, several such structures are currently being incorporated into the IAF's MiG-29B airframes as well.
The SU-30MKI employs extensive use of Sextant Avionique (now Thales Avionics) components in the cockpit. A total of 6 LCDs, 5 MFD-55s and 1 MFD-66 for displaying information and accepting commands are used. The six LCDs have a wide-screen, offer image-superimposing and are shielded to make them readable even in bright sunlight. All the flight information is displayed on these four LCD displays which include one for piloting and navigation, a tactical situation indicator, and two for display systems information including operating modes and overall operation status. The cockpit also retains some traditional dial displays as standbys.
There is some confusion regarding the HUD. While reports say MKI has VEH-3000 series Holographic HUD from Sextant Avionique, photographic evidence suggests Elbit Systems' SU 967. SU 967 has been designed for large cockpit fighter/attack aircraft and features a 28 degree FOV.
The aircraft is fitted with a satellite navigation system (A-737 GPS compatible), which permits it to make flights in all weathers; day and night. The navigation complex comprises of Thales Totem Inertial Directional System (INS) and short and long range radio navigation systems. It also has a laser attitude and a heading reference system. An automatic flight control system makes all phases of its flight automatic, including the combat employment of its weapons. Once the automatic flight control system receives information from the navigation system, it solves the route flight tasks - involving a flight over the programmed waypoints, the return to the landing airfield, making a pre-landing maneuver and the approach for landing down to an altitude of 60 meters, as well as uses the data supplied from the weapons control and radio guidance command systems to direct the aircraft to the target and accomplish the attack.
Front (left) and Rear (Right) cockpits
The communications equipment comprises secure VHF and HF radio sets, a secured digital telecommunications system, and antenna-feeder assembly. It mounts an automatic noise-proof target data exchange system, which provides for coordination of the actions of several fighter aircraft engaged in a group air combat. The voice radio communication with ground control stations and between aircraft is possible up to a range of 1,500 km in the Su-27SK, and the Su-30MKI should equal it if not better this. The Integrated Information System (IIS) allows the performance of a ground serviceability test of the entire equipment and the location of troubles to an individual plug-in unit. In case of an in-flight failure, the indicator of the integrated information system will provide the pilot with a text message about the failure and recommendations on how to correct it or will dictate further actions. The message is also duplicated by voice.
A two-pilot crew provides higher work efficiency (thanks to distribution of the aircraft handling and armament control functions) as well as the engagement in close and long range combats and the air situation observation. Besides, the same dual control aircraft can be used as a combat and training aircraft. Additionally, the integrated air-borne equipment enables the aircraft to be used as an air command post to control the operation of other aircraft.
In practice, the front seater is the pilot and the back seater is the "Wizzo", the WSO (Weapons Systems Operator). The pilot flies the aircraft and handles air-to-air and some ATG weapons, as well as countermeasures. The WSO takes care of the detailed aspects of navigation, ground radar mapping & target designation, setting up delivery solution for ATG weapons, designating for guided bombs/missiles, ECM, and so on. There are many tasks which overlap; either pilot or WSO can do the job depending on circumstances. The aircraft can be flown from either seat, however only the front cockpit driver can operate the helmet mounted sight (Sura) as sensors are only in the front. The rear cockpit has a HUD repeater.
The crew are provided zero-zero KD-36DM ejection seats which have a slightly modified comm/oxygen interface block compared to the Su-27. Rear seat is raised for better visibility. The cockpit will be provided with containers to store food and water reserves, a waste disposal system and increased amounts of oxygen. The KD-36DM ejection seat is inclined at 30º, to help the pilot resist aircraft accelerations in air combat.
Flight Control and Other Avionics
For flight control, reliability and survivability, the aircraft has a FBW with quadruple redundancy. Depending on the flight conditions, signals from the control stick position transmitter or the automatic FCS will be coupled to the remote control amplifiers. Upon updating, depending on the flight speed and altitude, these signals are combined with feedback signals fed by acceleration sensors and rate gyros. The resultant control signals are coupled to the high-speed electro-hydraulic actuators of the stabilizers, rudders and the canard. For greater reliability, all the computers work in parallel. The output signals are compared and, if the difference is significant, the faulty channel is disconnected.
An important part of the FBW is based on a stall warning and barrier mechanism with an individual drive of its own. It prevents development of aircraft stalls through a dramatic increase in the control stick pressure. This allows a pilot to effectively control the aircraft without running the risk of reaching the limit values of AoA and acceleration. The stall control is accomplished by the computer of a signal limiting system, depending on the configuration and loading of the aircraft. The same system sends voice and visual signals, as the aircraft nears a stall condition.
An oft criticised aspect of Russian aircraft in general is their 'poor' servicebility. This is more of a perception, and in capable hands they can return more than satisfactory performance. The Su-30MKI does add some new features regarding this, including self-diagnostic software that will indeed make life a lot easier for the airmen!
For acquiring predictive maintenance capability, the IAF and Rosoboronexport FSUE have joined forces with South Africa 's Aerospace Monitoring And Systems (Pty) Ltd (AMS). Predictive maintenance means the on- and off-board processing of aircraft sub-systems data, resulting in an accurate, conclusive indication of the health and usage status of various airborne systems. The Su-30MKI Mk3's on-board health-and-usage monitoring system (HUMS) not only monitors almost every aircraft system and sub-system, including the avionics sub-systems, it can also act as an engineering data recorder. For the Su-30MKI Mk3, AMS was contracted for providing total HUMS solutions, starting with definition of the IAF's qualitative requirements, followed by systems provision (development and implementation), integration and support phases.
Methods have since been co-developed by AMS and the IAF for the following:
  • fatigue loading spectra;
  • fatigue analysis methods;
  • material fatigue behaviour;
  • fracture mechanics;
  • damage tolerance analysis and testing of redundant metallic aircraft structures;
  • fatigue crack growth analysis;
  • crack growth, residual strength analyses
  • aircraft structural integrity programmes;
  • ageing aircraft issue.
Indian Contribution
The Su-30MKI contains not only Russian, French, South African and Israeli Customer Furnished Equipment (CFE), but also a substantial percentage of Indian designed and manufactured avionics. They took six years to develop from start to MKI. Advanced avionics were developed by DRDO under a project code named "Vetrivale" (a Tamil name for the victorious lance carried by the youthful Lord Karthikeya or Murugan, a son of Parvati and Shiva) in close collaboration with the PSUs and the IAF. Indian avionics have been received and acknowledged enthusiastically by the Russian principals.
The following are the components developed by Indian agencies:
  • Mission Computer cum Display Processor - MC-486 and DP-30MK (Defence Avionics Research Establishment - DARE)
  • Radar Computer - RC1 and RC2 (DARE)
  • Tarang Mk2 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) + High Accuracy Direction Finding Module (HADF) (DARE
  • IFF-1410A - Identification Friend or Foe (IFF)
  • Integrated Communication suite INCOM 1210A (HAL)
  • Radar Altimeter - RAM-1701 (HAL)
  • Programmable Signal Processor (PSP) - (LRDE)
  • Multi Function Displays (MFD) - Samtel/DARE
The 32-bit Mission Computer performs mission-oriented computations, flight management, reconfiguration-cum-redundancy management and in-flight systems self-tests. In compliance with MIL-STD-1521 and 2167A standards, Ada language has been adopted for the mission computer's software. The other DARE-developed product, the Tarang Mk2 (Tranquil) radar warning receiver, is manufactured by state-owned BEL at its Bangalore facility.
These avionics equipment have also been certified for their airworthiness in meeting the demanding standards of Russian military aviation. The cumulative value of such indigenous avionic equipment is estimated to exceed Rs. 250 lakhs per aircraft. Since the core avionics were developed by a single agency (DRDO) - they have significant commonality of hardware and software amongst them using a modular approach to design. This obviously results in major cost and time savings in development; it also benefits the user in maintenance and spares inventories.
The DRDO has gone a step further and come out with a new design of the Core Avionics Computer (CAC) which can be used with a single module adaptation across many other aircraft platforms. Thus the CAC which is derived from the computers designed for the Su-30MKI will now be the centre piece of the avionics upgrades for the MiG-27 and Jaguar aircraft as well. The CAC was demonstrated by DRDO at the Aero India exhibition at Yelahanka and attracted a good deal of international attention. Taken together with the systems already developed indigenously for the LCA (such as the Digital Flight Control Computer and HUD), clearly Indian avionics have a significant export potential in the burgeoning global market for avionics modernisation.
The navigation/weapons systems from the various countries were integrated by Ramenskoye RPKB.
HAL will supply components to Irkut for 300 Su-30s meant for export to Malaysia and Algeria apart from those meant for IAF.[7]
The forward facing NIIP NO11M Bars (Panther) is a powerful integrated radar sighting system. The N011M is a digital multi-mode dual frequency band radar (X and L Band, NATO D and I). The N011M can function both in air-to-air and air-to-land/sea mode simultaneusly while being tied into a high-precision laser-inertial / GPS navigation system. It is equipped with a modern digital weapons control system as well as anti-jamming features. The aircraft has an opto-electronic surveillance and targeting system which consists of a IR direction finder, laser rangefinder and helmet mounted sight system. The HMS allows the pilot to turn his head in a 90º field of view, lock on to a target and launch the much-feared R-73E missile. The Sura-K HMS for the Su-30MKI has been supplied by the Ukranian Arsenal Company (the same also makes the APK-9 datalink pod for the Kh-59M).
The N011M radar has been under flight testing since 1993, fitted to Su-27M (Su-35) prototype '712'. It employs the same level of technology as the now abandoned N014 radar which was to have equipped Mikoyan's MFI "fifth-generation" fighter and was initiated by Tamerlan Bekirbayev. The nose of the Su-30MKI was modified (compared the Su-27) to accommodate the fixed antenna array and more avionics boxes. The first improved N011M radar for the Su-30MKI was flown on 26-Nov-2000. Note that the N011M is different from the N011 "Mech" radar: the latter is mechanical scanning and equips the No 24 Sqn aircraft.
Antenna diameter is 1m, antenna gain 36dB, the main sidelobe level is -25dB, average sideobe level is -48dB, beamwidth is 2.4 deg with 12 distinct beam shapes. The antenna weighs 100kg
N011M Bars
For aircraft N011M has a 350 km search range and a maximum 200 km tracking range, and 60 km in the rear hemisphere. A MiG-21 for instance can be detected at a distance of up to 135 km. Design maximum search range for an F-16 target was 140-160km. A Bars' earlier variant, fitted with a five-kilowatt transmitter, proved to be capable of detecting Su-27 fighters at a range of over 330 km. The radar can track 20 air targets and engage the 4 most threatening targets simultaneously (this capability was introduced in the Indian RC1 and RC2). These targets can include cruise/ballistic missiles and even motionless helicopters. For comparison, Phazotron-NIIR’s Zhuk-MS radar has a range of 150-180km against a fighter and over 300km against a warship. "We can count the number of blades in the engine of the aircraft in sight (by the NO11M) and by that determine its type," NIIP says.
The forward hemisphere is ±90º in azimuth and ±55º in elevation (+/-45 degrees vertical and +/-70 degrees horizontal have also been reported). N011M can withstand up to 5 percent transceiver loss without significant degredation in performance.
The Su-30MKI can function as a 'mini-AWACS' and can act as a director or command post for other aircraft. The target co-ordinates can be transferred automatically to atleast 4 other aircraft. This feature was first seen in the MiG-31 Foxhound, which is equipped with a Zaslon radar.
Radar Computers
> Facilitate automatic PRF selection of hostile targets moving at blind speeds
> Enhance tracking capability to 8 targets
> 486 main processor
> 386 Summit processor
> ARINC 429 Interface
> Dimensions 32cm x 19cm x 19cm
> Weight 14 kg each
RC1 Functions
> Interfaced to MCDP through ARINC and MIL-1553 BUS
> Interfaced to RC2 via high speed parallel Q bus
> Processes radar input and passes results to mission computer
RC2 Functions
> Interfaced to PSP
> Interfaced to various radar devices and combat computer via Q bus
Ground surveillance modes include mapping (with Doppler beam sharpening), search & track of moving targets, synthetic aperture radar and terrain avoidance. To penetrate enemy defenses, the aircraft can fly at low altitudes using the terrain following and obstacle avoidance feature. It enables the pilot to independently find his position without help from external sources (satellite navigation, etc.); detect ground targets and their AD systems; choose the best approach route to a target with continuous updates fed to the aircraft navigation systems; and provide onboard systems and armament with targeting data.
According to Sukhoi EDB the Su-30MKI is capable of performing all tactical tasks of the Su-24 Fencer deep interdiction tactical bomber and the Su-27 Flanker A/B/C air superiority fighter while having around twice the combat range and atleast 2.5 times the combat effectiveness.
The N011M offers a quantum leap in technology over the earlier Russian radars. Small ground targets, like tanks, can be detected out to 40-50 km. The MiG-29, Su-27 and other fighters can be provided with a ground strike capability only if their radars can operate in the down-looking mode which generates a map of ground surface on a cockpit display (this mode is called the Mapping Mode).
N011M ensures a 20 m resolution detection of large sea targets at a distance up to 400 km, and of small size ones - at a distance of 120 km. Coupled with the air-launched Brahmos-A AShM, the Su-30MKI will become an unchallanged platform for Anti-Ship duties. The Brahmos is a result of a joint collaboration between India and Russia and is a variant of the Yakhont AShM (which has not entered service).
N011M Bars supplied to the IAF have progressively updated capabilities. Future upgradation plans include new gimbals for the antenna mount to increase the field of view to about 90-100 degrees to both sides. New software will enable a Doppler-sharpening mode and the capability to engage up to eight air targets simultaneously. Additionally the capability of the world-best PJ-10 Brahmos missile will be incorporated. The Air launched version of the missile 'Brahmos-A' requires modifications to the airframe due to high weight. As many as three can be carried on the MKI, but only if the weight of the missile can be reduced. Untill then a capability to carry one Brahmos and two Krypton ("mini moskit") missiles is being worked on.
Su-30MKI Phase-IN011M Mk.1
> Only Air-to-Air modes
Su-30MKI Phase-IIN011M Mk.2
> Ability to engage targets with four R-77
> Ground mapping
> Ground/Sea target search and lock
> Integrated with Kh-31A and Kh-59ME
Su-30MKI Phase-IIIN011M Mk.3
> Russian C101 radar computer replaced by Indian processor.
> Ground attack mode with simultaneus air target search
> Integration with Rafael Litening pod
> 2007 debut
> New gimbals for the moving antenna: +/-100 degrees azimuth & elevation
> New computer: 180 km tracking range
Weapons and related Avionics
The Su-30MKI combat load is mounted on 12 stations. The maximum advertised combat load is 8000 kg (17,600 lbs). All compatible Russian/Soviet AAMs and AGMs are available to the IAF, which infact has quite a large variety of these weapons. The RVV-AE is not being inducted into the Russian Air Force but have been bought by the IAF. The aircraft features the built-in single-barrel GSh-301 gun (30 mm calibre, 150 rounds).
Indian designed and manufactured Astra BVRAAM is planned for integration with the aircraft. [8] India and Russia are exploring integration of long range AAM KS-172 as well.
Over 70 versions of guided and unguided weapon stores may be employed, which allows the aircraft to fly the most diverse tactical missions. Speculation is that the Su-30 can also carry a tactical nuclear payload, though only Jaguar and Mirage aircraft are known to be equipped for the role thus far.
Official Sukhoi Literature - GENERAL description
The laser-optical locator system is advertised to include a day and night FLIR capability and is used in conjunction with the Helmet mounted sighting system. The Laser Guided Munitions will be employed in conjunction with the Rafael Litening pod. The APK-9 datalink pod is associated with the Kh-59ME.
The OLS-27 (Izdeliye 36Sh) is a combined IRST/LR device for the Su-27, similar to the MiG-29's KOLS but more sophisticated, using a cooled, broader waveband, sensor. Tracking rate is over 25deg/sec. 50km range in pursuit engagement, 15km head-on. The laser rangefinder operates between 300-3000m for air targets, 300-5000m for ground targets.
Search limits for the OLS-27 are ±60deg azimuth, +60/-15° in elevation. Three different FOVs are used, 60° by 10°, 20° by 5°, and 3° by 3°. Detection range is up to 50km, whilst the laser ranger is effective from 300-3000m. Azimuth tracking is accurate to 5 secs, whilst range data is accurate to 10m. Targets are displayed on the same CRT display as the radar. Weighs 174kg.
The OLS-30 (36Sh-01), is an improved version of OLS-27 developed by UOMZ with a vibration-proof receiver, micro-cryogenic system, improved service life and new software. Perhaps also has TV channel. Range 90km in pursuit, 40km head-on. Possibly the same as Izdeliye-52Sh.
Cannot Be Enlarged
Official Sukhoi Literature - general description for the Su-30 family
Official Sukhoi Literature
Official Sukhoi Literature
Unguided Weapons:
Official Sukhoi Literature
Sample Weapon Configurations and Flight Profile depending on mission:
Official Sukhoi Literature
Official Sukhoi Literature
Official Sukhoi Literature
Air-to-Air MissilesMaximum Pcs
Air-to-Surface MissilesMaximum Pcs
Kh-31P, Kh-31A04
Guided/Smart BombsMaximum Pcs
KAB-500KR, KAB-500 OD06
KAB-1500KR, KAB-1500L03
Unguided ProjectilesMaximum Pcs
S-8KOM, S-80M, S-8MB04 blocks (80 pcs.)
S-13T, S-13OF04 blocks (20 pcs.)
S-25 OFM-PU04
Unguided/Dumb BombsMaximum Pcs
RBK-500 bomb clusters with PBE-D08
Incendiary tanks3B-500
OtherMaximum Pcs
APK-9 (Datalink Pod)01
UPAZ-1 (IFR Pod)01
Elta EL/L-8222 (RF Jammer)01(?)
Kh-31P - Su-30MKI - @0 Sqn
A Su-30MKI in service with the 20 Sqn sports a live Kh-31P. (Jane's/Simon Watson)
ECM/Self Defence
An integrated ECM system turns on the warning units that provide signals about incoming enemy missiles, a new generation radio recon set, active jamming facilities and radar & heat decoys. It also includes an electronic intelligence unit, a chaff and flare dispenser and a RWR system. The RWR system is an indigenous product developed by DRDO called Tranquil (Tarang Mk2). Tarang is already deployed in IAF MiG-21 Bison and MiG-27ML fighters. Phase-I and Phase-II aircraft have SPO-32 (L-150) Pastel radar-warning receivers and no RF jammers. Latest aircraft are compatible with the Elta EL/M-8222 EW pod and so are the older Su-30MK/Ks.
Official Sukhoi Literature
Engines and Fuel System
The Su-30MKI is powered by the Al-31FP (P for povorotnoye meaning "movable"), which is a development of the Al-37FU (seen in the Su-37 Terminator).
AL-31FP which is designed by the Lyulka Engine Design Bureau (NPO Saturn) is also different from Al-31F (by the same company). The Al-31F is the 'baseline' powerplant found in most Su-27 and its variants, and perhaps in the China's J-10 in the future and lacks TVC. The AL-31FP was only 110Kg heavier and 0.4 m longer than the AL-31F, while the thrust remains the same. Planes equipped with AL-31F can be upgraded to AL-31FP later on without any changes in the airframe. It is being produced now at the Saturn manufacturing facility at Ufa, Russia.
The Al-37FU (FU stands for forsazh-upravlaemoye-sopo or "afterburning-articulating/steerable-nozzle") basically added 2D Thrust Vectoring Control (TVC) Nozzles to the Al-31F. 2D TVC means that the Nozzles can be directed/pointed in 2 axis or directions - up or down. TVC obviuosly makes an aircraft much more maneuverable. Al-31FP builds on the Al-37FU with the capability to vector in 2 planes i.e. thrust can be directed side-ways also. The nozzles of the MKI are capable of deflecting 32 degrees in the horizontal plane and 15 degrees in the vertical plane. This is done by angling them inwards by 15 degrees inwards, which produces a cork-screw effect and thus enhancing the turning capability of the aircraft.
(1) (2) (3)
The thrust vectoring is clearly visible in these vidcaps of a Su-37
The TVC nozzles will be made of titanium to reduce the nozzle's weight and can deflect together or differentially to achieve the desired thrust vector for a particular maneuver. The engine designers are also working to reduce the infrared signature for thrust settings below afterburner.
Also, the 2-nozzles can be vectored un-symmetrically, i.e. each nozzle can point at different directions independent from the other nozzle and thus multiplying the effect.The aircraft is capable of near-zero speed airspeed at high angles of attack and super dynamic aerobatics in negative speeds up to 200 km/h.
When at rest, the Al-31FP nozzles point inwards - as is visible above
TVC allows the MKI for example, to rapidly loose speed and turn in any direction and fire its weapons. The complete range of maneuveres possible in the MKI are impossible on any other combat fighter in production. "We even made a corkscrew spin a controllable manoeuvre - the pilot can leave it at any moment by a single motion of the stick that engages thrust-vectoring and aerodynamic surfaces," says Sukhoi's earlier general designer Mikhail Simonov.
Two AL-31FP by-pass thrust-vectoring turbojet reheated engines (25000 kgf full afterburning thrust) ensure a 2M horizontal flight speed (a 1350 km/h ground-level speed) and a rate of climb of 230 m/s. The Mean Time Between Overhaul (MTBO) for the AL-31FP is given at 1,000 hours with a full-life span of 3,000 hours. The titanium nozzle has a MTBO of 500 Hrs.
The Al-31FP improves upon the Al-37FU in two ways:
  • Firstly, the Al-37FU cannot vector thrust in 2 planes unlike the Al-31FP.
  • Secondly, the nozzle drive connection is effected now from the aircraft fuel system and not from the aircraft's hydraulic system. The change-over to the fuel system, to control swiveling nozzles, enhances the dependability of the aircraft and its survivability in air combat.
First Cousins: Su-30MKI (Left) and Su-37 (Right)
There is no a strain-gauge engine control stick to change the engine thrust in the cockpit, rather just a conventional engine throttle control lever. The pilot controls the aircraft with help of a standard control stick which is positioned between his legs. On the pilot's right there is a switch which is turned on for performing difficult maneuvers. After the switch-over, the on-board computer determines the level of use of aerodynamic surfaces and swiveling nozzles and their required deflection angles.
Saturn/Lyulka General Designer Victor Chepkin confirmed to Piotr Butowski (Jane's) that work on a three-dimensional (axisymmetrical) TVC nozzle was underway but that it was not planned for the Su-37 in the immediate future. Other future engines from Saturn are Al-31FN and Al-41.
The Su-30MKI has a large range of 3,000 km without refueling which allows for autonomous operations that require high endurance. Also, an inbuilt In-Flight Refueling (IFR) probe that is retracted beside the cockpit during normal operation. The IAF has placed an order for six IL-78MKI Midas refueling aircraft. As of June 2003, the first IL-78MKI had been delivered to the IAF under the newly raised 78 Sqn. Another one was delivered within the next few months.
A picture from the Air Force Day 2003 celebrations
IL-78MKI refuels two Su-30MKI
A normal fuel load of 5270 kg ensures a 4.5 hour combat mission, and the air refuelling system increases the flight duration up to 10 hours with a range of 8000 km at a cruise height of 11 to 13 km. Thus the endurance of the aircraft is limited solely by the human factor, hence the logic of going for a twin-seat fighter. Prior to the arrival of the IL-78MKI, the average duration of sorties was 1.54 hours varying from a maximum of 2.08 to a minimum of 1.45 hours*. Since the arrival of the IL-78MKI, IAF pilots have flown 10 Hr missions over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from Pune.
Interestingly, the total time spent in air combat manoeuvre varied from a maximum of 22.04 minutes to a minimum of 4.01 minutes, with an average of 14.04 minutes. In percentage figures, in long duration sorties, the pilot spent 12.5 percent of the time on ACM as compared to the total duration of the sortie. These figures are from studies conducted in 1998 on the un-upgraded Su-30MK variants*.
See Indian Journal of Aerospace Medicine 1998; 42(2): 6-9
The IAF in co-operation with the Defence Food Research Laboratories (DFRL) has designed "inflight meals" to provide nutrition to pilots flying long duration missions. IAF's Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) personnel like Wg Cdr CK Ranjan and Wg Cdr AD Upadhyaya worked on these meals and their storage. The Mysore-based DFRL has developed nutritious coconut water and pineapple juice, besides ready to eat food like sooji halwa, ribbon and cheese sandwich and mince meat rice, packed specially for high endurance aircraft. The food is nutritiuos and is easy to eat in the cockpit environment, and the pilots can choose their meal.
Engines manufactured were adapted under the grades of fuel used in India.
Many wrongly believe that the Su-27+ cannot perform all maneovres in combat load. To counter such talk designer Mikhail Simonov, at the 1994 Farnborough airshow, sanctioned a Su-30MK to perform the airshow routine with ordnance on all 12 pylons - a total of 7000 kg!! It did a complete fighter-like routine with this asymmetric load - including a tail slide!!.
In-Close, Stay-Close, and Kill-Close strategy is a way defeat the new generation of all-aspect, high-off-boresight missiles such as the R-73, Python 4, MICA-IR, and AIM-9X. Obviously one has to survive the transit from beyond visual range (BVR), to within visual range (WVR), to inside of minimum range. Once there however, both Western and Russian gun systems are capable of all-aspect, high crossing angle kills at ranges inside of 1500 feet.
Russian designers have stated that they believe that the key to dogfight supremacy rests in the pilot's ability to engage the enemy in any position relative to their own aircraft. While TVC permits post-stall maneuvering and pointing which are impossible in conventional aircraft, they are convinced that a rearward facing radar and missiles that can be fired in the aft-quadrant all join to make an unbeatable integrated weapons system.
In the News
Servicability. In September 2003 and again in December of the same year, the local media reported that some of the AL-31F turbofans had to be overhauled prematurely, after completing an average of "700 Hrs", instead of the advertised 1000. The cause of this was described as "nicks" in the turbofan blades, and the whole squadron was reported to be completely "grounded". The IAF dismissed these allegations as only rumours, but admitted that some engines had developed these problems in their blades. Unfortunately, the accuracy of media reporting can be questioned considering that simultaneusly aircraft were appearing all over the country for aerobatic events in public events! In various interviews, IAF Chief ACM Krishnaswamy rejected the media reports as cynicism and stressed that blade nicks, which appear due to pebble ingestion, do happen and there is nothing unusual and specific to the sukhois. There were accompanying rumors that the IAF had even refused to accept a batch of SU-30MKI production, which were simply untrue.
Su-30MKM. In 2003 Malaysia signed up for the delivery of 18 Su-30MKMs for their air force. The Su-30MKM, also to be manufactured by Irkut Corporation, is described as being identical to the MKI, but lacks the Israeli components, replaced instead by French avionics are included. Irkut has also subcontracted the task of manufacturing the canards, stabalisers and fins to HAL. This contract is valued between 25 to 30 Million USD for HAL. These composite parts will be manufactured at HAL Nasik.
An eight-member Royal Malaysian air force team, led by the director of operations, major general Dato Azizan Bin Ariffin, visited the Lohegaon air force base in August 2003, to familiarise themselves with the training and maintenance activities of the advanced Sukhoi-30 MKIs. Training of RMAF personnel is expected to start in 2006 (the contract is yet to be signed [4]). This is not the first time, however, that the IAF has offered assistance to RMAF. During 1994-95, IAF had conducted ground training on MiG-29 aircrafts for their Malaysian counterparts
Su-30 for Algeria. Russia has been contracted by Algeria to supply 28 Su-30 fighters to Algeria. While the configuration is not known, Algeria reportedly wants it to match Su-30MKI standard. Consequently some business is expected to come to Indian avionics manufacturers [3].
Exercises with other Air Forces. In Feb 2004, an IAF-USAF DACT camp was held at Maharajpur AFS, Gwalior. Titled "Ex Cope India 2004"; it was the first time F-15s and Flankers faced off with each other under the public eye. The results were, much to the surprise of many, were heavily in the IAF's favour. Read more about this watershed event elsewhere on this site. Article and here. Since then Su-30MKIs have also exercised with Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-16s (Ex Sindex) and USAF F-16s (Ex Cope India 2005).
Brahmos Missile. The Brahmos missile is the world's most lethal AShM. It is capable of low altitude flying at supersonic speeds with maneuvering to defeat defences. Both Air-to-Surface and Air-to-Ship versions are being developed for the IAF. The first trial of the aircraft version of BrahMos will be conducted before December 2007. Only a limited number of aircraft will be modified to carry this missile. [1]
The Su-30s seem to have captured the nation's imagination; they are a favorite of the media and anybody interested in military matters. Public appearences are frequent - both in flypasts as well as static display. And everytime the public is left spellbound. It is should not come as a surprise, that the Su-30MKI has virtually become the mascot of the Indian Air Force and will continue to be one for the coming decades.
Dimensions and Weights
Length21.9 m
Span14.7 m
Height6.4 m
Take-off Weight
Normal24900 kg
Maximum38800 kg
Fuel weight, (spec. weight 0.785 g p cu. sm) kg
Normal5270 kg
Maximum9640 kg
Max takeoff run with a normal takeoff weight (afterburner)550 m
Max landing run with a normal landing weight, with a drag parachute750 m
Max operating overload9 g


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