Analysis: Su-30SM2 fighter to begin trials in late 2020

Upgraded multirole Su-30SM2 fighter jet will take off by the end of 2020. It is powered by AL-41F-1S engine. The avionics, optics, radar and monitoring systems have been upgraded. The already available aircraft are to be upgraded to S-30SM2 level. The basic Su-30SM is the main aircraft operated by Russia and its CSTO allies, the Izvestia daily writes.

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Analysis Su 30SM2 fighter to begin trials in late 2020 925 001 Su-30SM2 fighter jets. (Picture source: Vimpel-v)

Defense Ministry and industry sources said the first flight of Su-30SM2 prototype with AL-41F-1S engine or product 117S had been approved. The daily obtained the schedule which said aircraft producers were checking the latest jet for the first flight. Su-30SM2 is expected to take off by the end of the year. It had onboard electronics, radar, optical station upgraded and arms expanded.

Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu visited Irkutsk Aircraft Plant in August and said his ministry planned to sign a contract for 21 Su-30SM2 jets and 24 Yak-130 training aircraft. The total cost is over 100 billion rubles.

Adaptation-Su R&D has been underway since 2015 to increase combat capabilities and replace foreign components in the basic Su-30SM. The jet is upgraded to fire new air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.

It was initially planned to strengthen arms and change the avionics. The jet was designated as Su-30SM1. In 2018, the Russian president ordered to unify Su-30SM and Su-35S to the maximum. The design of an option with AL-41F-1S engine began. It considered to replace Bars radar with more powerful Irbis. The index of the jet changed to Su-30SM2.

"The more powerful engine of Su-35 will provide higher thrust. It means a bigger number of munitions and equipment on board," Merited test pilot Colonel Igor Malikov said. "The thrust-vectoring module promotes maneuverable combat which also needs proper electronic equipment and arms controls," he said.

The powerful AL-41F-1S engine with multi-axis thrust vectoring is known as product 117S. It has been tested on Su-35S and develops a 16-percent bigger thrust of 14500 kgf than current Su-30SM power plant. The motor resource has doubled to 4 thousand hours without weight and size increase.

AL-41F-1S has a plasma ignition and is more economical than AL-31FP on Su-30SM. It can fly longer with the same amount of fuel.

The higher capacity is necessary to increase thrust and provide power to modern avionics. The jet can carry a more powerful radar with an increased detection range of air and ground targets and provide power to electronic warfare.

The Sukhoi Company, the Irkut Corporation and UEC-UMPO motor manufacturing enterprise integrated the new engine into the jet. It will increase combat capabilities, simplify maintenance and make it cheaper, and prolong the life cycle of Su-30SM operated by Russia and its allies.

Su-30SM was created for the Russian armed forces on the basis of export option Su-30MK which was a hit on the international arms market on the threshold of the centuries. Over 300 aircraft were supplied to India, Algeria and Malaysia. The platform allowed quickly creating a modification for Russia and beginning its batch production.

Russia currently operates the biggest number of Su-30SM jets. The Aerospace Forces and the Navy have close to 130 aircraft. Members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization also procured it. Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan acquired several dozen Su-30SM, the Izvestia said.

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