MAKS 2011: New ‘Super’ Version of Sukhoi Su-30MK Announced

 - August 29, 2011, 4:55 AM
The Su-30MK development aircraft was shown at the previous Moscow Air Show in 2009. At this year’s show, a new version featuring an AESA radar was announced. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Irkut Corp. reported that Russia and India have reached agreement on the technical specification of the Super 30, a new version of the Sukhoi Su-30MK twinjet with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, replacing the older N-011M Bars radar with its passive electronic scanning antenna. Irkut claims that the heavy, twin-seat, multirole supersonic jet with thrust-vectored engines will be the first exportable Russian fighter with an AESA. It is believed that an enlarged version of the Phazotron Zhuk-AE radar will be fitted to the Super 30.

Despite its elimination from the Indian medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition, the MiG-35 and its newly developed Zhuk-MA AESA radar demonstrated significant capabilities, including ground-mapping modes and the ability to detect, track and shoot at aerial targets. During demonstration flights, a MiG-35D development prototype destroyed an aerial drone with an air-to-air missile launched by an Indian pilot.

However, an alternative AESA is available for the Super 30 in the form of Tikhomirov’s NIIP. Having revealed an experimental AESA at MAKS 2009, Tikhomirov demonstrated an improved version at the Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2011) earlier this month.

India and Russia are also discussing other ways of further improving the baseline Su-30MKI. The list of air-launched precision-guided missiles for the Super 30 will be expanded, to include non-Russian weapons. Russia has also agreed to integrate the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on the Super 30, despite its large dimensions and heavy weight, in excess of 2.5 metric tons for the newly developed, air-launched model. Aircrew may be instructed to drop the weapon before landing, if it is not launched in flight.

To date, 170 Irkut-built Su-30MK series aircraft are in service with the Indian, Algerian and Malaysian air forces out of “over 300” ordered. Irkut continues to supply assembly kits to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited of India, which is gradually mastering Su-30MKI license production.

Rosboronexport is understood to have clinched a follow-on order from Algeria of 16 Su-30MKAs broadly similar to the Indian Su-30MKI. Rosoboronexport and Irkut refuse to give exact numbers, but say the new contract is made up of firm orders and options.