Tag Archives: Sukhoi

Myanmar to Buy Six Sukhoi Su-30 “Generation 4+” Combat Aircraft from Russia

Multirole Sukhoi to Become Primary Combat Aircraft of Myanmar Air Force.

Myanmar has confirmed its commitment to purchase six new Russian-built Sukhoi Su-30 multi-role advanced tactical aircraft. Russian news agency TASS quoted the Russian Deputy Defense Minister, Lt. Gen Alexander Fomin, as saying the new Su-30s will, “become the main fighter aircraft of Myanmar’s air force”.

Myanmar, bordered by China, India, Laos, Thailand and Bangladesh, currently operates a significant number of MiG-29 aircraft, quoted as being around 39 aircraft with little reliable information about how many are combat-ready. According to reports from several Asian and western media outlets including FlightGlobal.com, Myanmar also may have orders for 16 Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 fighters.

Although no detail about the Sukhoi Su-30 variant that Myanmar will operate has been made public, some sources believe it will probably be a version closely related to the Su-30SME  unveiled at the Singapore Airshow in 2016. When the Su-30SME export version for Singapore was announced at the Singapore Airshow, Irkut Corporation President Oleg Demchenko was quoted by Jane’s Defense as saying, “The Su-30SME is an upgraded modern platform based on Russian equipment. As the basic Russian Su-30SM version develops, the capabilities of the export Su-30SME will also expand.” This claimed modular expandability is a feature of the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and is attractive to potential buyers since it provides an open-source, modular approach to keeping tactical aircraft current in technology and capabilities.

According to data published by Jane’s Defense, the Sukhoi Su-30SME export version, likely similar to the version that will go to Myanmar, will have a normal take-off weight of 26,090 kg. and a max take-off of 34,000 kg. Interestingly, the quoted thrust in Jane’s Defense was 25,000 kg, putting the thrust-to-weight ratio of the Su-30SME below 1:1. Operational range is quoted as 1,280 km and top speed is said to be Mach 1.75.

Jane’s Defense tells us the Su-30SME uses two AL-31FP afterburning jet engines with thrust vectoring nozzles for enhanced directional control. The combination of two of these powerplants on the SU-30SME give the aircraft a combat payload of up to 8,000 kg spread among 12 external hardpoints on the fuselage and wings.

If there is one area the Su-30SME and related versions may be down-speced relative to western counterparts it may be avionics connectivity, or the ability to share data gathered by the aircraft’s sensors with other aircraft and weapons systems. As described, the avionics suite of the Su-30SME sounds like an essentially “closed loop” system without mention of datalink capability, a potential force-multiplier. The Su-30SME can carry externally mounted infrared and laser targeting pods for ground target acquisition and terminal precision weapon guidance. The fire control radar can acquire and track 15 targets simultaneously in air-to-air mode while being able to manage four attacks simultaneously. Passive, non-emitting sensors on the Su-30SME include an electro-optical targeting sensor combined with a laser inertial navigation system. There is also a helmet-mounted target designator, and satellite GPS navigation system compatible with the GLONASS and NAVSTAR formats. It is likely, however, that if a datalink system in not already available among the avionics suite for the Su-30SME and related versions, that capability will likely be developed soon.

A Sukhoi Su-30 on display at the MAKS airshow. (Photo: Sukhoi)

Anyway, whatever the version Myanmar will get, the sale of these six Su-30s is significant not only because of the country’s history and role in the region, which is somewhat volatile; more significantly it continues a significant run of sales successes for the Russian aircraft industry.

But while the Russians have seen unit sale growth in their military aircraft exports, their “ticket average” or cost per aircraft unit sale still trails the U.S. Those lower ticket averages per aircraft may be a part of their success. Russia has been able to offer highly capable tactical aircraft to countries that cannot participate in most western defense consortiums for both economic and political reasons. As the air forces of some African and Asian countries have become obsolete and degraded by age the new Russian military empire formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union has moved in to fill the supply vacuum of military aircraft.

However, the dollar volumes (if not unit numbers) worldwide still favor the United States aircraft suppliers. Five of the top six arms producing companies in gross sales as reported in 2006 were US-headquartered companies. All were primarily aerospace. Those companies were Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. That trend has continued after 2010 with the introduction of massive programs like the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, often quoted as the most expensive defense project in history.

There was no mention of the date of delivery for the six aircraft to Myanmar or if there would be a potential for follow-on acquisition of more aircraft. An interesting mention in the Myanmar Times on Jan. 23, 2018 said that the aircraft will be, among the others, “suitable for Myanmar’s counter-insurgency operations.” That may hint at some of the aircraft’s tasking in the region, even though the Yak-130 advanced jet trainer/light attack aircraft that Myanmar Air Force already flies (six out of 12 examples have already been delivered) is probably more suitable to undertake that kind of mission.

Top image credit: TASS

New Photos of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-57 Stealth Jet Show Some Progress of Russian Advanced Fighter Program

New Ninth Example of Russian 5th Generation Sukhoi Su57 (PAK FA) With Its Enormous Fuel Tanks Spotted at Zhukovsky.

Vladimir Zinenko, admin for the Facebook group page “ВВС России”, a page for fans of the Russian Air Forces, has shared new photos of the ninth example of Sukhoi’s 5th generation fighter, the recently designated Su-57. The aircraft has been referred to in development as the T-50 and is the outcome of Russia’s PAK-FA advanced fighter development program. The program is intended to field an advanced 5th gen air superiority aircraft to offer capabilities similar to the U.S. F-22 Raptor.

One noteworthy distinction between the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor and the T-50/Su-57 is advanced, precision air-to-ground capability engineered into the aircraft from its origin, whereas the F-22 Raptor acquired this capability following its “increment 2” upgrade program in 2005 and has since demonstrated its precision strike capability in Syria.

The new aircraft flew through Zhukovsky International Airport two days ago when a number of spotters photographed it. The photos quickly appeared on the Russian aircraft spotter and photographer forum RussianPlanes.net.

The T-50 prototypes have worn several paint schemes so far and this latest example is wearing the pixelated two-tone camouflage livery seen on at least one other T-50/Su-57.

For the long ferry flight made from where the aircraft apparently first flew on Aug. 6, 2017 at Komsomolsk-on-Amur it transited approximately 3,273 miles (6,066 kilometers) to Zhukovsky where the photos were taken two days ago. The aircraft carried a large pair of underwing tanks during the flight.

The long ferry flight from its likely production facility to the Moscow area for testing spanned most of Russia.

This new aircraft, wearing tail number “511”, has been characterized as a production test aircraft using the final version of the Su-57’s airframe. It is said to have tested production capabilities for follow-on examples likely to be built in a low-initial-rate setting.

Questions continue to surround the Su-57 program. Criticism has surfaced in western media of the aircraft’s actual stealth capability, but many of these criticisms in popular media mirror those seen in the western non-defense press about the U.S. F-35 program, a largely successful program that has nonetheless drawn intense scrutiny and criticism in media outside the defense industry.

The majority of concerns about the Su-57 are focused on its engine program. The aircraft have used the NPO Saturn/Izdeliye 117, or AL-41F1 engine with vectored thrust capability. An engine fire in June 2014 seriously damaged the fifth PAK-FA/T-50 prototype during testing. That aircraft has since been repaired following engine replacement that took over a year. There have been reports of a program to re-engine the aircraft by 2025 with an entirely new powerplant intended specifically for the Su-57.

Image credit: Andrey Neyman via RussianPlanes.net

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Russia surpassed U.S. in production of new combat planes, Russian United Aircraft Corporation says

According to the Joint Stock Company UAC (United Aircraft-building Corporation), Russia has produced more combat aircraft than the U.S., in 2014.

As reported by Russian media outlets, in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio station, Vladislav Goncharenko, deputy head of the military aviation programmes department at UAC (the a Russian holding which encompasses Irkut, Mikoyan, Sukhoi, Ilyushin, Tupolev, Beriev and Yakovlev), Moscow has surpassed the U.S. in the number of produced combat aircraft.

Whilst in 2013, UAC companies delivered 68 planes, 100 aircraft, 95 of those are combat planes for the Russian Air Force were produced and delivered in 2014.

Along with the production of more planes, UAC subsidiaries have carried out the modernization of existing aircraft and the development of new weapons systems, Goncharenko said.

Even though we don’t know the corresponding U.S. figures, the number of new aircraft delivered to the front-line units of the Russian Air Force is a clear sign Moscow is strongly supporting its renascent military power.

For sure “quantity” does not always come with “quality” and, most probably, U.S. technology will still be ahead of Russian (or Chinese) one for several decades. However, it’s impossible to foresee the outcome of a dogfight in which few, advanced American 6th Generation fighter jets, face outnumbering Russian 5th Generation warplanes.

In the meanwhile, PAK-FA T-50 prototypes have been quipped with Himalayas EW defense systems to increase jamming resistance and self-protection capabilities. The delivery of the first production PAK-FA 5th Generation stealth jet to the Air Force is planned for 2016 whereas new type of combat and reconnaissance drone will appear by 2018. 6th Generation aircraft are being studied as well.

By 2020, 55 PAK-FA fighters will be in service with the Russian Air Force.

H/T to @Missilito for the heads-up

Image credit: Tony Lovelock

 

Russia’s fifth generation PAK-FA prototype catches fire on landing

Russian T-50 fighter plane damaged on the ground.

On Jun. 10, Russia’s 5th generation stealth fighter plane Sukhoi T-50 (PAK FA – Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii—Future Tactical Air System) which since February has been a subject of state test programme in Zhukovski, caught fire on landing.

The landing was succesful and Sergey Bogdan, the Russian test pilot who flew the T-50 during the test flight, was unharmed. Sukhoi officials claim that the fire was local, and was quickly extinguished. The fighter is to be repaired.

Two remaining examples of T-50 are undergoing ground tests and static tests. According to the official stance of the Sukhoi company, the incident will not have an impact on the test program, and the proceedings are to be continued in accordance with the planned schedule.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image credit: United Aircraft

 

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Airbus A-400M “Grizzly” crosswind testing at Keflavik International Airport

On Feb. 19, an Airbus A-400M “Grizzly” testplane made a quick visit to Keflavik International Airport to perform multiple crosswing landings. The Aviationist reporter Eggert Norðdahl was there to take the following pictures of the testing activity.

The Airbus A-400M registration F-WWMZ (c/n. 006), arrived just after daylight (in the morning) and performed multiple crosswind landings followed by taxi back and take-off from RWY 20. During the activities the tactical airlifter was observed performing approaches of approx. 30 degrees of crab, for incredibly short-landing rolls.

Noteworthy, Keflavik had winds from 080 degrees, at 30 knots, with gusting up to 47 knots.

A400M-FWWMZ-Departing1836

Image credit: screenshot from FR24.com

This “crosswind storm” knocked down a brand new GSM Tele-Communication mast at the Keflavík Ásbrú district (at the old US Naval Station Keflavík Military area) – and Swedish JAS-39 Gripen and Finnish F/A-18 fighter jets (involved in IAM-2014) temporarily based at the airport were forced to cancel their sorties.

A400M-FWWMZ-20140219-D-015356

Only a few Norwegian “Shark” aircraft (F-16s) (as wel as a Dutch KDC-10 tanker) took off to perform their “Iceland Air Policing” mission.

The Airbus Grizzly also performed four landings on RWY 11 (into the wind) then pulled in for fuel-stop (and Customs checks) and perhaps a little rest. Later on the same day it took off again and finally daparted back for Europe.

It was last noted at FL310 heading for Toulouse at 18:36 hrs.

Previous aircraft types doing crosswind tests at Keflavik during the last decades were the B-777, A-380, B-787 (twice), B-747i and Sukhoi 100-95 (the latter left Iceland on Dec. 28, 2013, after performing a gear up landing on Jul. 21, 2013).

A400M-FWWMZ-20140219-D-015523

Image credit: Eggert Norðdahl

 

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