Type: Multirole fighter Designer: Sukhoi Company Manufacturer: Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO) First flight:1999 Introduction: December 2000 Operators: PLA Air Force (76); PLA Navy (24) Crew: 2 In-flight refuelling: Yes (retractable probe)
The PLAAF and PLANAF acquired 100 examples of the Sukhoi Su-30MKK ‘Flanker-G’’ multirole fighter between 2001 and 2004. The Su-30MKK is PLA’s first ‘true’ multirole fighter with both ‘beyond-visual-range’ air-to-air and precision strike capabilities. Additionally, the aircraft is also fitted with sophisticated electronic countermeasures (ECM) and C4ISR suites for target acquisitions and weapon guidance. Shenyang Aircraft Industry Corporation (SAC) has introduced a two-seat multirole fighter designated J-16, with similar arrangement and configuration.
The Su-30MK is the first ‘true’ multirole fighter in Sukhoi’s ‘Flanker’ family. The aircraft originated from the Su-27PU, a two-seat long-range interceptor fighter / airborne command post aircraft introduced for the Soviet Air Defence Forces (PVO) in 1989. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sukhoi developed the Su-27PU into a multirole fighter designated Su-30M but received no order from the Russian Air Force. Forced to turn to the export market, Sukhoi developed the Su-30MK (Modernizirovannyi Kommercheskiy = “Modernized Commercial”) in 1994.
Negotiations between China and Russia over the purchase of the Su-30MK began in 1996. Sukhoi Design Bureau started work to produce a Su-30-based two-seat attack aircraft designated Su-30MKK (Modernizirovannyi Kommercheskiy Kitayski = “Modernised Commercial for China”) in 1997, with A.I. Knyshev appointed as the chief designer for the project. Under the agreement, Komsomolsk-on-Amur production plant (KnAAPO) was chosen as the primary contractor to build the aircraft. The contract of purchasing 38 Su-30MKK aircraft valued at about US$2 billion was officially signed in August 1999.
The Su-30MKK had adopted some matured designs of previous Flanker fighters, including the centre wing section, wing panels, air intakes, tail beams, fins and landing gear of the Su-27M single-seat fighter and the tail-end fuselage assemblies of the Su-27SK Flanker-B. This approach allowed the development time to be reduced significantly. The prototype planes were made in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in 1998-99, and the aircraft made its maiden flight successfully on 20 May 1999. Four pre-production examples were handed for testing and evaluation between 1999 and 2001. The Su-30MKK prototype ‘502 Blue’ was first demonstrated during the 2000 Zhuhai Air Show.
The first 10 production examples of the Su-30MKK were delivered to the PLAAF in December 2000, followed by a second batch of 10 examples on 21 August 2001, and a third batch of 18 examples in December 2001. These aircraft were shared between the PLAAF 3rd Air Division / 9th Fighter Regiment based at Wuhu AFB, Anhui Province and the PLAAF Flight Test & Training Base at Cangzhou AFB, Hebei Province, each with 19 examples.
In July 2001, during a visit to Moscow by the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin, a new contract was signed with the KnAAPO to supply an additional 38 Su-30 MKK fighters. These aircraft were delivered in 2003, with 19 examples operated by the PLAAF 18th Air Division based at Datuopu Airbase, Changsha, Hunan Province and 19 examples by the PLAAF 29th Air Division based at Quzhou Airbase, Zhejiang Province.
Development of the further improved Su-30MKK2 began at Sukhoi around early 2002. Compared to the MK version, the MKK2 variant features an improved precision-attack capability and an entirely new C4ISTAR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) suite. The aircraft’s new N001VEP fire-control radar was specifically modified to launch the Kh-31 (NATO reporting name: Kh-17A Krypton-A) long-range supersonic anti-ship missile.
In January 2003, China signed the contract with Russian Rosoboronexport for the purchase of the third batch of 24 Su-30MKK2 fighters. Specially tailored to meet the requirements of the PLA Naval Air Force, the Su-30MKK2 featured enhanced anti-ship strike capability. The first batch of 12 examples was delivered in February-March 2004, followed by the second batch of 12 examples in August 2004. These aircraft were deployed by the PLANAF 4th Division / 10th Fighter Regiment based at Feidong Airbase, Zhejiang Province.
The Su-30MKK is nearly identical to the two-seat Su-27UBK ‘Flanker-C’ in appearance, with mid-mounted and semi-delta wings with square tips. The leading-edge extension (LERX) extends downward and forward of the wing roots, with two rectangular air intakes underneath the fuselage and a large tail boom. The tail fins are swept-back and mounted outboard of the engines. The horizontal stabilisers are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered. The nose is pointed with a bubble canopy.
The Su-30MKK can be distinguished from the Su-27UBK from its square topped vertical tail in contrast to the cropped tail of the Su-27 family. To accommodate the in-flight refuelling probe, the electro-optical system is moved from centre of the nose to the starboard side. To support the increased take-off weight, the Su-30MKK has a twin-wheel nose hear as opposed to the single-wheel nose gear on the Su-27.
The Su-30MKK features improved avionics, including sophisticated electronic countermeasures (ECM) and C4ISR suites for target acquisitions and weapon guidance.
The aircraft is equipped with an upgraded N001VEP Pulse-Doppler fire-control radar developed by Tikhomirov Scientific Research Institute of Instrument Design (NIIP). With a new processor, the radar is able to track 10 targets and engage 4 of them (or 2 for ground targets) simultaneously. The radar has a detecting range of 150 km against fighters-sized targets or 400 km against bomber-sized target. It has also been optimised in order to fire the Vympel R-77 (AA-12 ‘Adder’) active radar-homing medium-range air-to-air missile.
Like all other Flanker fighters, the Su-30MKK is equipped with an OEPS-31E-MK electro-optic system, consisting of an infrared search and track (IRST) sensor and laser rangefinder. The system can detect enemy targets passively without requiring to turn on the fire-control radar, thus reducing the chance of the aircraft being detected.
Other avionics include:
– Gardeniya active jampping ECM pods (on wingtips)
– UOMZ Sapsan-E forward-looking infrared/laser targeting pod
– M400 reconnaissance suite
Fixed weapon includes a single-barrel 30 mm GSh-301 internal cannon with 150 rounds. Up to 8,000 kg weapon load can be carried on the aircraft’s 12 external stores hardpoints, including 2 tandem under the fuselage centreline, 2 under the air ducts, 6 under the wings, and 2 on the wingtips.
For air-to-air missions, the aircraft can carry the Vympel R-73E/M (AA-11 ‘Archer’) IR-homing SRAAM (30 km range), Vympel R-27R/ER/T/ET (AA-10 ‘Alamo’) semi-active radar-homing MRAAM (80—130 km range), and Vympel R-77 (AA-12 ‘Adder’) active radar-homing MRAAM (80—110 km range).
For ground strike mission, the aircraft can carry the Kh-29T/L TV/semi-active laser-homing air-to-surface missile (10—12 km range), Kh-31A anti-ship missile (103 km range), Kh-31P anti-radiation missile (110 km range), Kh-59M/E, inertial + TV-homing air-launched cruise missile (115—200 km range), KAB-500L laser guidance bombs, and KAB-1500L laser guidance bombs.
The aircraft is powered by two Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F turbofan engine, each rate at 75.22 kN (7,670 kgf, 16,910 lbf) dry and 122.6 kN (12,500 kgf, 27,560 lbf) with afterburning.
The aircraft is fitted with a retractable in-flight refuelling probe and can be refuelled by the Il-78 ‘Midas’ tanker aircraft.
Length (m): 21.9. Wingspan (m): 14.7. Height (m): 6.36. Empty weight (kg): N/A. Loaded weight (kg): 24,900. Max take-off weight (kg): 34,500. Internal fuel capacity (kg): 9,400. Max level speed (Mach): 2 (at altitude). Max climb rate (m/s): >305. Service ceiling (m): 17,300. Ferry range (km): 3,000, or 4,500 (with 1 refuelling), or 8,000 (with 2 refuellings). Combat radius (km): N/A. Max g-load: +9.