“Green grass, green grass ...” he stutters. - A deep sleep ... They rest ... In the manure pits, in the funnels they lie, riddled with bullets, shredded with projectiles, tightened in a swamp ...
E. M. Remarque "The Return"
E. M. Remarque "The Return"
War and death are not terrible in the movie - the heroes die from a neat little hole in the heart. Dirt, blood and the horrors of this war always remain behind the scenes. But it was for real fighting created the Soviet fighter-bomber Su-17. The "dry" flew there, from where there was no official television coverage, where it was not possible to distinguish others from their own, and the conditions demanded with utmost cruelty to strike at enemy positions. In contrast to the solemn ceremonial MiG-29 and Su-27, the "seventeenth" remained unknown to the general public. But his silhouette is well remembered by those on whose head he brought down tons of bombs.
The Su-17 first "lit up" on an air attack at Domodedovo in 1967, where it was immediately marked by NATO observers as a "primary objective" along with the legendary MiG-25 interceptor and vertical takeoff aircraft at Yakovlev Design Bureau. "Seventeenth" was the first Soviet aircraft with a variable geometry wing. This wing design improved the take-off and landing characteristics and increased aerodynamic quality on the dial. As a basic design, the Su-7B supersonic fighter-bomber was chosen - a deep modernization turned the old proven machine into a multi-mode third generation combat aircraft.
Three thousand aircraft of this type flew into both hemispheres of the Earth: at different times the Su-17 was in service with the Warsaw Pact countries, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and even the distant state of Peru. Forty years after its inception, the “seventeenth” remains in service: in addition to countries such as Angola, North Korea and Uzbekistan, the Su-17 form the basis of the fighter-bombing aviation Poland is a member country of the NATO bloc. The previous 2 years, the Su-17 again spent on the front line - fighter-bomber aircraft (ISA) of the government forces of Libya and Syria periodically subjected the rebel base to attacks.
The Su-17 fighter-bomber was mass-produced throughout 20 years - up to 1990, during which time 4 modifications were created for the USSR Air Force and 8 export versions (Su-20 and Su-22) with reduced armament and on-board equipment, not counting two combat training options and modifications that turn the strike aircraft in reconnaissance. All of them differed significantly from each other in the composition of weapons, avionics and flight characteristics. Especially distinguished two most advanced modifications:
- Su-17М3 - was created on the basis of the combat training option: on-board electronic equipment and an additional fuel tank appeared on the site of the instructor's cabin.
- Su-17М4 - the last, in many respects a new modification. The aircraft was optimized for low-altitude flight, the air intake cone was fixed in one position. Pervasive automation was introduced, an on-board computer, a Klen-PS laser target illumination system and a teleindicator for the use of controlled weapons. An automatic system “Uvod” was developed, which monitored the danger zone and determined the optimal time of the lapel taking into account the flight capabilities of the aircraft and the zone of destruction of the enemy’s anti-aircraft assets. If the pilot did not respond to the appropriate indication, the system automatically took the aircraft out of the danger zone.
Despite being a fighter aircraft, the Su-17 was extremely rarely involved in air battles with enemy aircraft — the Land of the Soviets had enough specialized fighters (there were three types of interceptors: Su-15, MiG-25 and MiG-31). The main task of the Su-17 was strikes against ground targets using a wide range of air-to-surface weapons.
Su-17 received "baptism of fire" during the Arab-Israeli war 1973 of the year - as a part of the Syrian Air Force at that time there were 15 machines of this type (under the designation Su-20). In view of the general chaos, it is difficult to estimate the results from combat use - it is known that the vehicles made several combat missions, there were serious losses.
The X-NUMXs saw the peak of the Su-1980 combat use: the Su-17 export versions were used to suppress the support bases of the partisan UNITA group (these black citizens demanded the liberation of Angola, first from Portugal, then from communism, then completely unknown from whom — the civil war continued almost 22 years).
Su-22 Libyan air force stormed ground targets during the First Civil War in the troubled state of Chad (the last half century there has been a senseless slaughter with short breaks to regroup the forces). Two of this type of aircraft were shot down over Sidra Bay by the US Navy's deck interceptors in August 1981.
Su-20 and Su-22 Iraqi Air Force 8 years fought on the fronts of the Iran-Iraq war (1980 - 1988), simultaneously engaging in the suppression of Shiite uprisings in the south of the country. With the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War (1991), many Iraqi fighter-bombers were temporarily redeployed to Iran - with the full superiority of air forces of multinational forces in the air they could no longer fight. Iran, as usual, did not return the aircraft, and forty "dry" went to the guard of the Islamic revolution.
The use of Su-20 during the civil war 1994 of the year in Yemen was noted, at about the same time on the other side of the Earth, the Peruvian Su-22 entered into aerial combat with the “Mirage” of the Ecuadorian air force during the war with the strange name Alto Senepa. The planes were shot down, and both Latin American countries, as usual, declared themselves the victors.
A truly significant event for the Su-17 was the Afghan war. In the very first days after the entry of Soviet troops, two dozen "dry" 217 Aviation Regiment of fighter-bombers of the Turkestan Military District were deployed to the air base of Shindad (Herat province, north-west of the country). All this was done with such haste, that no one had any idea what a new airfield was, in what condition it was and who it belonged to. Fears of the pilots were in vain - Shindad was a prepared military base under the control of the Soviet troops. The runway with a length of 2,7 kilometers was in fair condition, while, of course, all navigation and lighting equipment required major repairs and restoration.
In all, there were 4 suitable lanes for fighter-bombers on the territory of Afghanistan: the already mentioned Shindad near the border with Iran, the notorious Bagram and Kandahar, and directly Kabul airport. By the end of 1980, when the fighting in Afghanistan had become the scale of a real war, the Su-17 of the Turkestan Military District began to be involved in strikes.
The “dry” flew a lot and often, fulfilling the whole range of tasks of fighter-bomber front aviation - fire support, destruction of previously identified targets, “free hunting”. The standard was 4-5 sorties per day. Intelligence versions, for example, Su-17М3Р, which became the "eyes" of the 40 army, became very popular. The scouts constantly hung in the Afghan sky, controlling the movements of the caravans of the Mujahideen, searched for new targets and carried out additional exploration of the results of the IBA bombing assault strikes.
Scout Su-17 is night photographing the foothills of Saprohigar
Of particular importance were the night sorties of the Su-17 scouts - in the dark, movements of dushmans became more active, countless caravans set in motion. Complex night reconnaissance of gorges and passes was carried out with the use of thermal imagers and radio-technical systems that directed the radio stations of the enemy. Infrared sensors of the Zima complex (analogous to the modern American infrared aiming-navigation system LANTIRN, which increases the light of the stars by 25 000 times) made it possible at night to detect even traces of a recently passed car or an extinct bonfire. At the same time, at any time, the scouts could independently attack the identified target - on the suspensions, besides the container with photographic equipment, there were always bombs.
Another Su-17’s mournful task was to mine dangerous areas and mountain trails from the air — by the time the fighting ended, the number of mines in Afghan soil was many times higher than the number of Afghan citizens. Mining from the air was carried out using containers for small loads, each of which carried 8 blocks that contained 1248 anti-personnel mines. It was not necessary to speak about the accuracy of the discharge - the mining of a given square was carried out at a transonic speed. Such a combat technique not only impeded the movement of dushmans, but also jeopardized the conduct of special operations in the mountains by Soviet forces. Double edged weapon.
Under the conditions when every stone and crevice became a shelter for the enemy, mass use of cluster bombs of the RBC type began, which destroyed all life on an area of several hectares. The mighty FAB-500 showed themselves well: the explosion of an 500-kilogram bomb caused landslides on the mountain slopes, causing the destruction of secret paths, disguised warehouses and shelters. A typical variant of the combat load became the 2 of the NAR unit (64 unguided C-5 missiles) and two RBC cassettes with fragmentation or ball bombs. At the same time, each aircraft necessarily carried two 800-liter outboard fuel tanks: in the absence of any natural landmarks and interrupted radio communication (communication with aircraft running between the mountain folds, the An-26PT repeaters provided) increased fuel capacity was one of the most important factors directly affecting the success of a combat departure. The instruction stated that in the event of a loss of orientation, the pilot was obliged to take a course to the north and to eject after full development of the fuel — at least there was a possibility that he would be safe in the territory of the USSR.
Unfortunately, fierce fighting led to losses in attack aircraft - 23 March 1980, the first Su-17 did not return from the mission. On that day, a pair of "dry" struck at Chigcharan fortress, the direction of the attack in the direction of the ridge with a steep dive. Su-17 Major Gerasimov was not enough just a few meters - the plane caught the top of the ridge and exploded on the back side. The pilot died, the wreckage fell into the abyss.
With the increase in the number of anti-aircraft artillery barrels and large-caliber machine guns in the hands of the Mujahideen, each combat sortie turned into a dance with death - by the middle of the 80's losses were 20-30 “dry” per year. Three-quarters of damage to attack aircraft received from the fire of small arms, DShK and anti-aircraft mining installations, to combat this phenomenon, armor plates were installed on the lower surface of the Su-17 fuselage that protected the main components of the aircraft: a gearbox, a generator, a fuel pump. With the advent of man-portable air defense missiles, the installation of systems for shooting heat traps began - by the way, the threat of man-portable air defense systems was largely exaggerated - competent counteraction (heat traps, Lipa, special flight tactics), as well as a relatively small number of anti-aircraft missiles and poor training of warheads led to the fact that three-quarters of the losses of the aircraft were ... from the fire of hand-held small arms, DShK and anti-aircraft mountain installations.
Couple Su-17 doing their usual thing
The simple and reliable Su-17 demonstrated completely unique performance in the unimaginable conditions of the Afghan war: the aircraft engine worked without interruption during dust storms (here I immediately recall the gas turbine engine tank Abrams), using the most disgusting fuel (pipelines stretching to Shindad from the Soviet border were constantly fired upon and damaged by local "lovers" of gratuitous fuel). There were times when the damaged Su-17 rolled out of the strip and smashed the entire nose of the fuselage on the ground - they were able to be restored and put back into operation by the personnel of the air base.
According to the results of the Afghan company, Su-17М3 in reliability was ahead of all other types of airplanes and helicopter gunships of the Air Force of the Limited contingent of Soviet troops, having 145 hours time to failure.
Speaking of the Su-17, one can not fail to mention its eternal rival and partner, the MiG-27 aircraft. Both cars appeared almost at the same time, had identical mass-dimensional characteristics and a common structural element - a wing of variable geometry. At the same time, unlike the “flying tube” of the Su-17, the shock of the MiG was based on a more modern design of a third-generation fighter, the MiG-23.
In the last months of the Afghan war, the Su-17 at the airport of Shindad changed the MiG-27 - this could not affect the effectiveness of the air strikes, the command just wanted to check the MiGs in combat conditions.
At aviation forums between the pilots flying to the Su-17 and MiG-27, every time there are heated discussions on the topic: "What is better - MiG or Su?" The debaters did not come to an unambiguous conclusion. Solid arguments and equally serious accusations are heard from both sides:
“Avionics is a stone age” - a former IBA pilot is outraged who apparently once flew Su-17М3.
"But the spacious cabin and on the strength of the design it has no equal" - stands up for your favorite plane another panel member
“MiG-27 is the best. It is more powerful and modern. We caught up on the 4 "pyatisotki" and for the first round over the airfield they collected 3000 m. Goodbye, stinger! "- the MiG pilot authoritatively declares -" Particularly impressive, "Kayra, here Su-17 was not close”.
Optical “eye” of the Kaira-23 sighting system in the nose of the MiG fuselage
Then the pilots began to ardently discuss the famous modification of the MiG-27K, equipped with a laser-television aiming system "Kaira-23". Of course, it was a completely different plane - at the time of its creation, one of the best fighter-bombers in the world.
“At the MiG there was a six-barreled caliber gun 30 mm! Bursting the target to shreds ... "- exclaims someone.
"Come on! The gun is certainly good, but there was no way to use it - in Afghanistan, at the end of the war, we did not fly below 5000 meters. The gun and ammunition were carried as ballast, ”the new participant of the discussion says with restraint.
“Simplicity is the key to success! Su-17 is safer and easier to fly, ”the amateur Su-17 does not let up, continuing to list the facts of the incredible resurrection of wrecked aircraft. - “Maybe for the European theater of war and preferably the MiG, but for Afghanistan Su-17 was the most it!”
In general, the result of the dispute MiG vs Su is quite obvious: the MiG-27 is a more modern striking machine, superior to the “dry” one in a number of characteristics. In turn, the Su-17 is a cruel, merciless killer, designed for the same cruel, ruthless, and senseless wars.
When in January 1995, Russian tanks were burning on the streets of Grozny, and the fighting in the Chechen Republic acquired the character of a large-scale war, the Russian command suddenly remembered that it would be nice to attract fighter aircraft to attack. Just a couple of years ago, hundreds of MiG-27 and Su-17 of the latest modifications were in the domestic Air Force. Why are they not visible in the sky now? Where are the planes?
Your ###! - Generals of all stripes swear in the hearts. In accordance with the directive of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation from 1 July 1993, the new commands of Frontal Aviation, Reserve and Training were formed. Only modern aircraft remained in service of Frontal Aviation, to which Glavkom ranked MiG-29, Su-27, Su-24 and Su-25. In the same year, fighter-bomber aircraft were eliminated as a kind of military aviation, its tasks were transferred to bombers and attack aircraft, and all MiG-27 were massively written off and transferred to storage bases.
Due to the acute need for fighter-bombers, high state commissions went to these "cemeteries of technology" in order to select the most combat-ready vehicles and return them to service, even under the designation "attack aircraft" or "bomber". Alas, not a single combat-capable MiG-27 was found - in just a couple of years of “storage” under the open sky, without any conservation and proper supervision — all MiGs turned into ruins.
MiG-27ML "Bahadur" Air Force of India and F-15 US Air Force at a joint exercise
As of 2012 year, India is the largest MiG-27 operator in the world. The MiG-88ML Bahadur 27 airplanes form the basis of the Indian Air Force fighter-bomber aircraft, and may be in service until the end of this decade.
Interesting facts about the Afghan epic Su-17 are taken from the book by V. Markovsky "Hot Sky of Afghanistan"