First Su-30SM for Russian Air Force Flies

 - September 28, 2012, 10:15 AM
The first Su-30SM for the Russian Air Force was still unpainted when it made its first flight on September 21. (Photo: Irkut)

The first Sukhoi Su-30SM two-seat multirole fighter performed its maiden flight on September 21, followed four days later by the second Su-30SM. Sukhoi test pilot Sergei Kostin and navigator Pavel Malovechko served as the crew on both occasions. Flight durations were two hours and one hour 40 minutes, respectively, and both flights were uneventful. Both missions originated from the aerodrome of the Irkutsk Aviation Plant (IAZ) in Western Siberia. IAZ is the main manufacturing site for Irkut.

The Su-30SM is a new variant in the highly successful Su-30 series. It represents a customized version for the Russian air force of the Su-30MKI exported to India, Algeria and Malaysia.

Sukhoi says that the Su-30SM features super-maneuverability and represents further evolution of the Su-30MK line. It differs from the earlier version in having radiolocation, radio communications and IFF systems, as well as ejection seats and a number of onboard devices “adapted to the requirements of the Russian air force.”

The Su-30SM has some unspecified advanced weaponry, according to Irkut. The company earlier said that the aircraft is able to deploy the supersonic anti-ship and land-strike Onix missiles, a completely Russian version of the Indo-Russian PJ-10 BrahMos. The air-launched version of this missile is sometimes called the Alfa. Irkut holds a firm order for 30 Su-30SMs awarded in March 2012, with deliveries due by 2015. The Russian MoD has plans to deploy a Su-30SM regiment at a base on the Black Sea.

Irkut claims a 15-percent share of Russia’s overall military exports by value. Since 1996, the Su-30MKI/MKM series of two-seat multirole fighters have been Irkut’s cash cow, with the company logging orders for 294 aircraft so far and delivering more than 200 of them. Irkut claims a backlog of $7 billion after winning Su-30SM and Yak-130 orders from the Russian defense ministry. The company’s revenues in 2011 amounted to approximately $1.54 billion, almost twice what they were in 2006 and 5.3 percent greater than in 2010. Gross profits (before tax) were approximately $389 million, and net profits reached $24.5 million.