At the moment, Russia is manufacturing and purchasing three aircraft, which represent a deep modernization of the multipurpose heavy fighter Su-27 (Flanker according to NATO classification). They were developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau and are manufactured at two different enterprises - the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant (KnAAZ) and the Irkutsk Aviation Plant of the Irkut Corporation. According to Western experts, this decision is quite strange and can lead to substantial financial costs. Currently, the US Air Force is seeking to get a single fighter in the framework of the concept of JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) - F-35 "Lightning-2" (Lightning II).
Representatives of this type of troops announced the need to purchase 1763 new aircraft to replace most of the fighters currently in service and to increase the combat potential of the Air Force. Russia, on the contrary, is currently acquiring three types of modern fighters - Su-30M2, Su-30SM and Su-35. The procurement volumes of each of the aircraft are tens of units. Russian Ministry of Defense does not explain fighter procurement principles aviationHowever, experts believe that this is due to the desire to maintain the functioning of the two enterprises amid declining volumes of export of military aircraft. Such a strategy, according to foreign experts, will have a positive impact on improving the combat qualities of the Russian Air Force, which largely consists of aircraft delivered to the troops in the 80–90s. While the latest fifth-generation fighter T-50 (PAK FA) became widely known both in Russia and abroad, the introduction of the Su-30M2, Su-30SM and Su-35 aircraft into the Air Force attracted less attention.
The first Russian Air Force received the Su-30М2 fighter. His photographs at the Krymsk airbase, located in the southern part of the Krasnodar Territory, were published in December 2011. In November, three Su-2013CM airplanes were transferred to Domna air base on 30. By the end of last year, a total of ten aircraft were delivered to this air base. The transfer of another ten cars is expected this year, with the result that the formation of an aviation regiment is fully completed. In February, the 2014 of the first Su-35С fighters were transferred to the 23 fighter aviation regiment based at the Dzemgi airbase in the Khabarovsk Territory. According to experts, the Su-30М2 fighter, the first to be commissioned by the Russian Air Force, is the least perfect of all three aircraft. It is a development of the Su-30MKK model developed by KnAAZ for China. Su-30MKK, in turn, is considered a modernization of the Su-30 and is inferior to the Su-30MK fighter produced by Irkut Corporation. Su-30MKK equipped with equipment for refueling in the air and Russian avionics, allowing you to perform a wide range of combat missions. However, it is inferior to the Su-30MK, since it is not equipped with front horizontal tail unit (AIP) and aircraft engines with a deflected thrust vector. Some time later, KnAAZ received a contract for the supply of the PRC of the Su-30MK2 aircraft, which can use anti-ship armament.
This fighter was then sold to Vietnam, Indonesia, Venezuela and Uganda. The main external feature of the Su-30MKK / MK2 and Su-30М2 export aircraft for the Russian Air Force are two tail keels with a flat upper edge. The first order for the production of Su-30М2 for the Russian Air Force was received in the summer of 2009. These aircraft have much in common with a single-seat fighter with improved Su-27CM3 avionics, which also produces KnAAZ, and first-generation Su-27 aircraft. The Ministry of Defense ordered four Su-30М2 fighters and twelve Su-27М3 fighters. Experts suggest that double planes will support single in the course of training and combat missions, and possibly as an all-weather fighter. At the moment, the total volume of orders for Su-30М2 fighters is about 20 machines. Four aircraft were delivered to December 2013. Su-30CM, outwardly quite strongly resembling Su-30М2, is produced by competitor KnAAZ - Irkut Corporation. Both companies are part of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which unites all state and commercial Russian aircraft manufacturers.
Experts consider the Su-30CM version of the Su-30MK, which was supplied to China, Malaysia and Algeria, adapted for the Russian Air Force. Compared with Su-30MKK production KnAAZ Su-30MK has higher aerodynamic performance. There is a possibility of equipping it with both Russian and Western avionics - the buyer can choose the appropriate components from Russia, Ukraine, France, India and Israel. Some components of the Su-30MK are installed in the Su-30CM. These include the double cabin of the aircraft, the front horizontal tail, engines with a deflected thrust vector, an electric remote flight control system (EMF). Unlike the aircraft produced by KnAAZ, the fighters of the Irkut corporation are equipped with a shorter vertical tail. In March, the 2012 of the Russian Ministry of Defense unexpectedly placed an order for Su-30CM. In December of the same year, it was doubled and made 60 aircraft, which, as planned, will be delivered by the end of 2015. At the time of December 2013, the Russian Air Force only transferred 16 Su-30CM.
In February, 2014, according to information from a number of media outlets, the Ministry of Defense intends to sign additional contracts for the supply of another 50 Su-30CM worth more than two billion dollars. It is assumed that part of these aircraft or the entire new batch may be transferred to the Russian Navy, in this case, it is expected that deliveries will begin before the end of 2015. One of the main differences between the Su-30CM and the export Su-30МКИ for India is the use of Russian avionics instead of analogues made in Israel and India. However, much of the French equipment was retained, including the helmet-mounted display and navigation system. While on the Su-30М2 there is a H001В radar, which is an upgrade of the radar installed on the Su-27, the more powerful Bars-R H30М radar with passively phased antenna array (PAR) is included in the Su-011M avionics. Su-30M from Su-30MK is distinguished by the presence of more powerful ejection seats, adapted for heavy Russian pilots.
Experts believe that the Su-30CM will be able to use the new medium-range air-to-air missile RVV-SD and the new missile of the same short-range class RVV-MD. It is expected that the Su-30CM Russian Air Force will be equipped with other advanced air-to-air missile weapons. Su-35 differs from the two above-mentioned fighters in the first place because it is single-seater. The very concept of this aircraft appeared in the 80-s, but the direct development started at the beginning of the 2000-s. Su-35С, which KnAAZ was working on, received a new glider, improved avionics and aircraft engines. The AL-41F engines with a deflected thrust vector, a new optoelectronics, improved EDSU are installed on this fighter. PGO was dismantled due to the fact that the above-mentioned innovations allowed the Su-35С to provide an excellent level of maneuverability, according to experts. According to experts, after finalizing the development of the T-50, the Su-35C is equipped with a radar with a passive PARB H135 Irbis, an improved version of the Bars radar. It was assumed that the Su-35C as well as the Su-30М2 and Su-30СМ will be produced in the export version under the designation Su-35БМ.
A number of media outlets published information on a proposed deal with China, which is currently not confirmed. In 2009, the Ministry of Defense ordered the Su-35 fighters, 22 of which were transferred to the Air Force in February of the 2014. Twelve of these aircraft are deployed at Dzemgi airbase as part of a combat unit. The final delivery of the 48 Su-35C under the contract will be completed as expected in 2015. According to experts, the likelihood of signing another contract on 48 machines is high. Thanks to its advanced capabilities, it is Su-35C that experts believe will remain the main fighter of the Air Force until the mass entry of the low-profile T-50 into service. Capable of carrying an RVV-BD long-range air-to-air missile, according to some media, this fighter will be able to replace the outdated Russian Air Force MiG-31 interceptors. The question of the need to purchase three cars of the Su-27 family is quite relevant.
Experts believe: the production of one aircraft would be more appropriate, but the fact that rival enterprises are responsible for the production of aircraft, complicates the situation. At that time, when the Su-30 family of aircraft had significant success in the international market, the competition between the two manufacturers was not a significant problem. Su-30М2, the capabilities of which are the smallest of all the three aircraft, has, according to experts, a slight modernization potential. Earlier in the press there was information that Su-30М2 was purchased for the Russian Air Force after the failure of the deal with China. Su-35S are distinguished by a more powerful aircraft engine, improved avionics and weapons, and an updated radar. The production of Su-30CM is better debugged, the cost of this aircraft is lower, and the presence of two crew members allows you to perform more complex combat missions and more efficiently train pilots. Currently, the export prospects of the aircraft are rather vague. Foreign countries with the largest number of Su-30 family vehicles - India and China are actively building planes under license.
Malaysia chose not to purchase an additional amount of Su-30MKM, but decided to rent fighters. It is assumed that Indonesia can purchase Su-30 family aircraft to replace the outdated F-5, but even if the contract is signed, the number of imported fighters will be relatively small. According to experts, the decision of Moscow to purchase three types of aircraft is dictated by the need to support the production of both KnAAZ and the Irkut corporation. At the same time, the use of all three aircraft in the Air Force will make them more attractive to foreign customers. Today the Russian Air Force is in dire need of new fighters. The T-50 will be operational only after a few years. While the plane received positive ratings from the largest media, there is little technical information about the testing of five prototypes at the moment, according to experts. Unlike the American F-35, the T-50 tests are not public. In one of the published documents there is information according to which significant changes can be made to the T-50 project, but the degree of their probability is not specified. The timing of the T-50 program is constantly being postponed. Initially it was intended to transfer the final version of the prototype to the flight center in Akhtubinsk for testing in the 2014 year.
Experts believe that this will happen no earlier than the second half of 2016, which violates plans to declare the initial combat readiness and the beginning of mass production of the aircraft at the end of 2016. Experts are confident that in the best case, the probability of which is not very high, 60 T-50 will be delivered in 2016 – 2020. As a result, the Russian Air Force is in great need of updating the aviation fleet. Much of the fighters in the Russian Air Force is rapidly becoming obsolete. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent economic crisis significantly reduced the production of military aircraft. Only over the past few years, Moscow has been able to establish the production of fighters. Despite the fact that the above-mentioned aircraft have higher characteristics than their predecessors, the purchase of several dozen Su-30М2, Su-30CM and Su-35 will not be able to drastically improve the situation. The MiG-29, lighter than the Su-27 family of fighters, is used on a smaller scale.
Relatively recently, Algeria refused to acquire an aviation regiment of used MiG-29CMT. Heavy MiG-31 fighter interceptors are still in service, but only a small number of them have been upgraded to the level of MiG-31BM. Experts believe that not all of these aircraft have received advanced weapons. In light of the collapse of the MiG-29 modernization project and the uncertainty about the successor to the MiG-31, experts believe that it is Sukhoi’s aircraft that will protect the Russian sky for a long time. At present, the prospects for concluding contracts for the supply of Su-30М2, Su-30СМ and Su-35 for the Russian Air Force are not clear. However, experts agree that the future of fighter aviation in Russia largely depends on the development of a program to create a low-profile fifth generation T-50 fighter.