Russia continues to research and expand the features of 4+ generation fighters, including the Su-30SM2 fighter.
The Russian Armed Forces began to receive the first modernized Su-30SM2 fighters from the Russian Aircraft manufacturer, UAC. Deliveries are made within the framework of a state defense contract.
The upgraded aircraft features more powerful engines as well as new phased array radar, changes that expand its combat capabilities. At the same time, all existing advantages are retained such as super maneuverability, diverse arsenal, and long-range mission capabilities.
The Su-30SM2 is a new product and so far it has not had time to show itself in combat conditions. However, we collected the most interesting information about the development process.
In the modern world, the aviation department of the armed forces needs constant improvement. Russia is no exception, and when modernization is at the forefront, domestic designers have paid great attention to the Su-30. This line of fighters has stood the test of time and the Su-30SM version has proven its superiority in a short time. This variant started shipping in 2012.
Initially, the Russian Aerospace Forces purchased 116 aircraft. The Su-30SM has been chosen as the “standard fighter for the CSTO”, as Russia has provided it to many allies.
Specifically, Kazakhstan (36 units), Belarus (about 12 units) and Armenia (4 units) have purchased this fighter. A commercial version of the Su-30SME is also available for export, with information indicating that a contract has been signed with Myanmar.
The aircraft improvement process did not end there. In 2020, the Russian Ministry of Defense signed a contract to supply Su-30SM2. The exact number has not been determined, but open sources suggest that at least 21 aircraft will be provided to the Russian Navy alone.
If the previous Su-30SM1 model was limited to modernizing electronic equipment and expanding the range of weapons, on the Su-30SM2, a new engine AL-41F1S was installed, this is the same engine used on the Su-35. The new “heart” of the Su-30SM2 is superior – this has the most positive effect on flight performance. In addition, the expanded power supply will help install more powerful electronic warfare systems in the future.
Here, it is important to clarify that the mass and dimensions remain the same, without making the aircraft heavier, which means that the deeply modernized version contains only all the advantages.
The improved engine also provides more thrust, which means the aircraft can carry more ammunition and equipment. Controlled thrust vectoring gives the Su-30SM2 a big advantage in close-quarter air combat. New engine consume lower fuel and longer time between overhauls when compared with the outgoing Al-31FP engine.
The modernized Su-30SM2 will increase Russia’s influence in the export market – other countries around the world will be willing to buy the upgraded version, especially India, whose fleet has long needed to be replenished, India also planning to upgrade its Su-30MKI fleet into super Sukhoi.
In the matter of expanding air combat capabilities, the West is relying on fifth-generation fighters. For example, the US has built about 550 F-35s, but this is not enough. Around the world, 4th generation fighters are still the backbone.
Russia has not given up on the development of fifth-generation fighters, but at the same time it is systematically expanding aircraft production within the framework of the 4++ generation. At the same time, in matters of national security, vehicles can serve as the basis for border protection.
Upgraded aircraft are planned to be equipped with new generation weapons, including hypersonic missiles. Many military experts believe that Kh-32, the main weapon of the Tu-22M3M bomber could be used in Su-30SM2
If this happens, according to analysts, the Russian Aerospace Forces will receive an extremely powerful aviation complex, which can be effectively used even against enemy fleets of aircraft carriers.
Also new in the Su-30SM2 is PESA radar, the N011M Bars-R derivative with increased detection and tracking performance (compared to the radar on the Su-30SM). The SM2 upgrade includes the OSNOD multi-channel communication and information distribution system which enables the aircraft’s integration in Russia’s new-generation command-and-control network. The Su-30SM is fully capable when facing 5th generation fighters.