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Key facts about Russia’s Su-30 multirole fighter jet

Su-30 is a Russian two-seat multipurpose heavy fighter jet developed in the late 1980s

MOSCOW, May 3. /TASS/. Russia’s Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jet crashed over the Mediterranean Sea after its takeoff from the Hmeymim airbase in Syria, killing both pilots, the Defense Ministry of Russia reported on Thursday. According to preliminary information, a bird sucked into an aircraft engine could be the cause of the crash. This is the first Su-30 plane lost by Russia’s Aerospace Force.

Su-30 fighter jet

The Su-30 (NATO reporting name: Flanker-C) is a Russian two-seat multipurpose heavy fighter jet developed in the late 1980s by the Sukhoi Design Bureau on the basis of the Su-27UB combat trainer.

It is designed to control group combat operations of Su-27 fighters in accomplishing the tasks of gaining air supremacy, providing cover for land troops and facilities, destroying air assault forces, and also conducting air reconnaissance and hitting ground or naval targets.

As compared to the baseline version, the fighter jet has a broader arsenal of weapons, modernized equipment and the mid-air refueling system.

The pre-series prototype fighter performed its debut flight on December 31, 1989. The fighter went into service in 1992 but only three baseline aircraft were delivered to Russia’s Air Force.

In Russia, Su-30 fighter jets are produced at the Irkutsk Aviation Enterprise (Irkut Corporation) in East Siberia and at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant (KnAAZ) in the Russian Far East. In India, these planes are manufactured at enterprises of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Modifications and deliveries

In the mid-1990s, the Su-30 was used as a platform to develop the fighter jet’s export version, the Su-30K. This model was initially delivered to India but was subsequently replaced by the Su-30MKI version modified and adapted for that country (today these aircraft are also operational in Iraq and Angola).

Overall, 200 Su-30MKI fighters were delivered to India. Eventually, the Su-30 export versions enjoyed the greatest demand abroad: Apart from India, Iraq and Angola, these fighter jets were delivered to China (Su-30MKK), Vietnam (Su-30MK2, Su-30MKV), Venezuela (Su-30MKV), Indonesia (Su-30MK, Su-30MK2), Malaysia (Su-30MKM), Uganda (Su-30MK2) and Algeria (Su-30MKI2). In 2017, Russia signed a contract on the delivery of Su-30SM fighters to Belarus. On January 21, 2018, during an official visit by Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Myanmar, an agreement was reached on the purchase of six Su-30 aircraft by that Southeast Asian country.

The deliveries of Su-30 modifications to Russia’s Air Force and naval aviation began in 2010: overall, more than 50 modified Su-30M2 and Su-30SM aircraft were delivered. By order of Russian President Vladimir Putin issued on January 12, 2018, the Su-30SM was accepted for service in Russia’s Aerospace Force.

Several Su-30SM aircraft were also sold to Kazakhstan.

Su-30’s design and flight characteristics

The aircraft is designed under a normal aerodynamic scheme and has integral arrangement. The trapezoidal mid-wing blends into the fuselage, creating a single lifting body.

Two AL-31F afterburning turbofans are placed in engine nacelles mounted under the lifting body.

The fighter jet has twin tail fins and features retractable tricycle gear with the nose gear strut.

Su-30MK’s flight characteristics

  • - aircraft’s length: 21.9 m;
  • - wing span: 14.7 m;
  • - height: 6.4 m;
  • - maximum takeoff weight: 34.5 t;
  • - maximum combat load weight: 8 t;
  • - maximum range without refueling: 3,000 km;
  • - maximum speed: 2 Mach;
  • - service ceiling: 17,300 m;
  • - crew: 2 pilots.


The fighter jet has 12 external payload hardpoints that can carry a broad range of air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles and bombs and is furnished with a 30mm gun.