Prior to the cessation of production in 1993, export-modified Su-24MK bombers were shipped to Algeria, Iraq, Syria and Libya. The contract concluded with India was later terminated at the initiative of the customer, and front-line bombers with inscriptions in English on hatches and aggregates were transferred to the Soviet Air Force.
The first in the 1988 year (after the end of the Iran-Iraq war) Su-24MK received Iraq. In 1989, deliveries of the Su-24MK to Algeria, Libya and Syria began. Given the long range and wide range of weapons of the bomber, this was extremely painful in Israel.
Although the Iraqis were actively preparing to use the Su-24MK for long-range raids and even created for them an 3000-kg aerial bomb of their own design and specially converted one IL-76 into an air tanker, the century of these aircraft as part of the Iraqi Air Force was short. Due to the passivity of the Iraqi command, the Su-24MK was not used against the attacking forces of the anti-Iraqi coalition. Recorded only a few reconnaissance flights. In total, the 22 of the Iraqi Su-24MK bombers, fleeing from the US and British combat air raids, flew to Iran, where much of them have been safely operated so far.
Google Earth satellite image: Iranian Su-24MK at Shiraz airbase
Libya managed to get not all the ordered aircraft before the introduction of international sanctions. They flew in this country not too actively, more idle at the airfields. However, after the start of the civil war, some of the few Libyan Su-24MKs were still in flight and were attracted to delivering episodic air strikes against the rebels. It is very ineptly used only unmanaged means of destruction. In response, one bomber was shot down by anti-aircraft fire, and the rest were destroyed at airfields as a result of NATO bombings and rocket and artillery shelling.
The Su-24MK received by Algeria became a strong trump card in territorial disputes with its neighbors Morocco and Libya. The Algerian Twenty-Fours have never officially taken part in hostilities. According to unofficial information, which the Algerian representatives deny, Su-24M attacked the targets of the Islamists in Libya in 2014 year. Previously, they took part in a number of incidents on the border with Morocco. In this case, reported the loss of several cars in flight accidents.
Su-24M Algerian Air Force
In addition to the previously received bombers, Algeria ordered some more upgraded Su-24М and Su-24МР in the early 2000-x. These aircraft were delivered from the Russian Air Force. Currently, the number of front-line bombers and reconnaissance aircraft in the Algerian Air Force exceeds 35 units.
An interesting fact is that the Algerian Air Force received upgraded Su-24M with the SVP-24 system from Gefest and T, CJSC earlier than the Russian Air Force. Lobbied by the former general director of Sukhoi, M.A. Pogosyan, the aiming-navigation system developed by the OKB and NIREK (OCD "Gusar"), which had the worst characteristics, was altogether rejected by Algerian representatives.
SVP-24 combines instruments and means of aiming, navigation and control. It significantly expands the range of tactics available to pilots when searching for a target and entering an attack. The process of aiming and attacking rocket-bombing was facilitated, while it was possible to increase the accuracy. The range of aviation weapons available for use has expanded. For example, it became possible to use the X-31P anti-radar missile, which Gusar could not provide. In combat, the opportunity to use a satellite positioning system appeared, navigation accuracy increased to 3 meters.
Su-24M with PCR X-31P
The reliability of the sighting and navigation complex also increased, while the use of a more modern compact element base reduced the weight and size of new electronic units.
In addition to Algeria, Su-24M from the Russian Air Force received Angola, an agreement on this was concluded at the end of 2000. At that time, civil war broke out in Angola between the government forces and the UNITA movement, which only stopped in 2002 after the death of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi in a battle. The Angolan Air Force needed a “bomber” capable of striking remote areas of the country at any time of the day, regardless of the weather conditions in the target area.
The contract with Angola provided for the supply of 22 Su-24M bombers for 120 million. It is not known whether this contract was executed in full, but, according to reference books, as of 2010, the Angolan Air Force had 10 Su-24М.
Syria has actively used its Su-24MK against Islamists. The Syrian "twenty-four" suffered the main losses not in the air, but during artillery and mortar shelling of airfields. In September, one Su-2014MK Syrian air force was hit by a Patriot air defense missile when it approached the border with Israel.
In 2013, bypassing the arms embargo, Belarus delivered 12 withdrawn Su-24M bombers from their own air forces to Sudan. The planes are stationed at the Wadi Sayidna air base not far from Khartoum along with Belarusian technical staff and crews.
Satellite image of Google earth: Sudanese Su-24M at Wadi Sayidna airbase
Currently, the former Belarusian Su-24M is actively used by the Sudanese military in protracted conflicts in the country. There is a real civil war in southern Sudan using tanks and combat aviation. In the rebellious Sudanese province of Darfur alone, nearly 300000 people have died in combat over the past few years. However, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said that these aircraft will be used "only to repel external aggression."
The front bombers of the Russian Air Force Su-24M and the reconnaissance aircraft Su-24MR in the past were repeatedly used in combat operations in the post-Soviet space. They were involved in the first and second Chechen companies and the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict.
Initially, in December 1994, the plans of the Russian military leadership did not provide for the widespread use of front-line aviation. It was assumed that after the entry of the federal troops, Dudayev’s militants would run home, abandoning weapon. For the suppression of individual foci of resistance, it was considered sufficient to use army helicopters Mi-8 and Mi-24 with aircraft gunfire weapons, NURS and ATGM. However, the reality turned out to be different, and it was not possible to take Grozny by the forces of one airborne regiment, as promised by then Defense Minister Grachev.
The federal forces, meeting the fierce resistance of Chechen armed groups, which, in addition to small arms, had heavy weapons and anti-aircraft systems, appealed for air support. Large-caliber bombs were required to destroy fortifications and bridges.
The Su-24MR scouts conducted aerial reconnaissance, flying at altitudes inaccessible to the enemy’s anti-aircraft weapons, and Su-24M attacked the strongholds of the militants, covered them on the march, destroyed bridges and communications centers. Once again, the ability of the Su-24M to operate in conditions of poor visibility on radar landmarks was useful.
To train the crews of the 196 and 559 BAS, involved in Chechnya and largely lost the skills to use guided weapons, it was necessary to involve specialists and pilots-instructors from Lipetsk 4-th Center for Combat Training and 929-th State Flight Test Center in Akhtubinsk.
When the weather conditions allow, the most well-trained crews bombers admitted to the use of guided weapons, missiles used with a laser and X-25ML television-guided X-59, guided aerial bombs and 500L CC-CC-500KR as well as heavy and CC-1500L KAB- 1500TK. The last two bridges were destroyed across the Argun River. Heavy adjustable aerial bombs were used after the use of smaller-caliber ammunition did not give satisfactory results.
Unfortunately, not without loss. 3 February 1995 at low altitude in a thick fog Su-24M crashed into a mountain southeast of the village of Chervlennaya. A possible cause of the disaster could be a failure of the onboard navigation system.
After squeezing Dudaevs from the plains into the mountainous terrain, Su-24MR was actively used to search for their bases and camps, after which front-line bombers and attack aircraft entered into action.
At that time, the “twenty-fours” became a real nightmare for the leadership of the militants. Using information obtained by reconnaissance, front-line bombers, flying at altitudes inaccessible to the air defenses of the militants, methodically attacked with high-precision ammunition at command posts, weapons depots and staff buildings in areas not controlled by federal forces.
For the destruction of point targets very effectively used adjustable bombs KAB-500L with laser and KAB-500KR with television guidance. So, 24 May 1995, two KAB-500L destroyed ammunition depot, who was in a cave on a mountain slope to the south of the village zone. 28 May bombs with television-command guidance KAB-500KR was destroyed by the militants headquarters, and a powerful radio station in the village of Vedeno. A total of about Su-24M during 1-th Chechen was dropped about 30 KAB.
In the course of the 2 of the Chechen war, the military leadership acted more intelligently. During this “time of trouble”, the raid in the front-line shelves was minimal due to the lack of jet fuel, and the young pilots simply did not have the necessary flight experience (the average flight time per pilot was only 21 h). The veterans who went through Afghanistan and 1 Chechen again went to battle.
Before the start of the land operation, active aerial reconnaissance was conducted. The main source of information when planning air strikes were maps prepared on the basis of Su-24MR reconnaissance flights.
Su-24M bombers were involved in delivering massive bomb strikes with high-explosive FAB-250 and FAB-500 air bombs. In addition to directly destroying objects, manpower and equipment, the ruptures of powerful explosives contributed to blocking Chechen militants in isolated areas, creating impassable obstructions in mountainous and wooded areas. Also, once again found the use of high-precision aircraft munitions.
October 4 1999 of the year during the reconnaissance flight was lost Su-24MR from the 11-th RAP. The pilot died while the navigator successfully catapulted and was captured by the Chechens, but later he managed to escape.
Three more Su-24s were lost on January 30, 2000, at the airfield in Akhtubinsk. Airplanes fully fueled and equipped with ammunition burned after the TM-59G airfield “heat gun” driver, who had fallen asleep due to fatigue, crashed into them. Perhaps it was the most ridiculous loss of aircraft for the entire war.
7 May 2000 of the MANPADS near the Chechen village of Benoy-Vedeno was shot down by Su-24MR, both crew members were killed. Unlike previous attempts, the calculation of the anti-aircraft complex acted extremely competently and coolly. The rocket launch was carried out from a successful firing position and at the most advantageous moment to turn the plane.
Especially valuable once again was the ability of the Su-24M to act in conditions of bad weather and frequent fogs for the mountains. Twenty-fours were often the only front-line aircraft that made flights in adverse weather conditions. At the same time, it was deemed inexpedient to direct them to support ground units because of the high risk of strikes against the positions of their own troops. Su-24M were used exclusively for strikes against previously planned targets far from the line of contact. In total, during the 2, the Chechen Su-24M and Su-24MR made about 800 sorties.
In the "Russian-Georgian war" 2008 of the year were involved bombers: Su-24М 959-th BAP from Yeisk, 559-th BAP from Morozovsk, 4-th pulp and paper them. Chkalov from Lipetsk, as well as the scouts of the Su-24МР 11-th separate Guards Vitebsk RAP from Marinovka and 929-th GLITS from Akhtubinsk.
In this armed conflict for the first time in the Russian modern stories Our air forces are confronted with a rather modern, but rather modern and centralized air defense system.
Especially distinguished was the Georgian division of the Buk-М1 air defense system, which operated in the Gori area, as Ukrainian officials later admitted, at that moment Ukrainian military advisers and technical specialists were present at the location of the air defense station. The calculation of "Buka" managed to bring down reconnaissance Su-24MR, who piloted the crew of 929-th GLITs from Akhtubinsk. The pilots were able to eject, but one of them was killed, and the other was seriously injured.
According to unconfirmed data, besides the Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft, the Su-24M bomber, allegedly shot down by an Israeli-made Spider air defense system, was still lost.
In this conflict, the share of high-precision means of destruction intended for destruction of ground targets used by the Su-24M was unprecedentedly low. And it was not about the difficult weather conditions that prevented the guided bombs and rockets from a laser or television seeker to go under, as in Chechnya.
By the year 2008, the stock of high-precision aviation weapons produced back in the USSR was mostly spent or expired. And the Air Force Command was afraid to use the remaining guided munitions for reasons of leaving the front-line bombers unarmed, which was unacceptable if the conflict with the West escalated. So, once again, the twenty-fours had to process point targets with free-fall cast iron.
Whether the conflict served as a catalyst for 2008 of the year, or just coincided, but in 2009, the Russian Defense Ministry finally decided to abandon the modernization of the remaining Su-24М for Su-24М2, proposed by Sukhoi (ROC Gusar), and chose the modernization for from JSC "Gefest and T" (OKR "Metronom"). The sighting navigation equipment SVP-24 of JSC "Hephaestus and T" at the output turned out to be much more practical, cheaper and more accurate. Old men Su-24M, equipped with SVP-24, in their percussion capabilities are not inferior to more modern machines.
The automated system of operational control of ASEC-24 repeatedly reduces the time of analysis of the results of combat sortie, which allows increasing the intensity of use of the Su-24М.
In addition to upgrading the bomber sighting and navigation complex, a ground component was also introduced - the Ground Complex for the preparation and control of flight missions (NKP and K). Its use more than doubles the frequency of Su-24М combat missions (Su-24МК) when changing the flight task setting.
The great advantage of this modernization option is that it can be carried out in front-line regiments, without sending aircraft to aircraft repair enterprises. The installation effort of the SNPC-24 is 85 man-hours.
Simultaneously with the introduction of the new digital complex equipment SVP-24, it was decided to resume production and modernization of some types of old high-precision munitions and the adoption of new ones.
In general, Su-24M with updated avionics are quite effective shock machines. They even surpass the modern Su-34 front-line bombers in some ways. During joint training flights at extremely low altitude with the Su-34, the pilots of the latter, due to excessive shaking, after a while asked to rise higher. In the same conditions, due to its aerodynamic layout, with a wing set at the maximum sweep angle, the Su-24M goes smoothly - “like an iron”. I think no one needs to explain the meaning of flights on primary air defense in the event of an air defense breakthrough.
The artillery weapons of the upgraded Su-24M, which he inherited from the earlier Su-24, remain highly controversial. 23-mm six-barreled gun GSH-6-23М with 500 rounds of ammunition shots has a rate of fire to 10000 rounds / min. However, the firing of a cannon, which has a powerful impact, often led to the failure of avionics. Vibration, thermal, acoustic and shock loads adversely affected the design of the right air intake, causing damage and corrosion of its panels. In the middle in 80-x shooting from the GSH-6-23 on the Su-24 was temporarily banned before making modifications that preclude the occurrence of emergency situations.
Designers, installing the GSH-6-23 on the Su-24, planned first of all to use it for ground attack. The same applies to the SPSP-6 outboard cannon installations with 23-mm six-barrel cannons. The carriage of the SPPU-6 installation had two degrees of freedom of movement. The movement of the gun carriage was controlled by a synchronous-tracking drive from the pilot's aiming device. It was assumed that from the SPPU-6 will be aimed shelling targets with a strafing flight.
The SPPU-6 installation, despite its unique properties, was not popular among pilots, and especially among gunsmiths involved in the preparation for the use of aircraft weapons, due to excessive complexity. These aircraft artillery systems, outstanding in their characteristics, have never been used in a real combat situation, being, in fact, an expensive ballast.
The refusal of the use of aircraft cannons on the Su-24 in combat conditions due to the vulnerability of the front bomber when using this type of aircraft armament from anti-aircraft gun fire and even small arms. In this case, the Su-24 loses its main advantage - the ability to deliver sudden accurate shots from average heights at any time of the day and regardless of weather conditions. And to use an expensive front-line bomber with a heaped aiming-navigation complex as a microscope that clogs nails, is too expensive.
The capabilities of the Su-24 to combat aerial targets have always been evaluated very modestly. Melee air combat missiles P-60 on the Su-24 are designed mainly to fight with enemy helicopters. More modern P-73 missiles have better performance, but pilots of all twenty-four versions considered it a blessing to avoid air combat with modern fighters, since they had practically no chance of winning. Su-24 is capable of aerobatics without a suspension of armament and with a limited supply of fuel.
In this respect, of course, it is more preferable to look for the Su-34, but it also carries only near UR P-73 with TGS. Despite the presence of a Su-34 radar capable of detecting and tracking airborne targets at a considerable distance, there is still no medium-range guided missile in the Su-34 ammunition load. This means that, taking into account all its many advantages, the newest Russian front-line bomber is capable of leading only defensive aerial combat.
Another advantage of the Su-34 is the presence of a perfect REP complex on it. The Su-24 electronic countermeasure station has much more modest capabilities and is now obsolete.
Widely publicized in a number of domestic media outlets and causing a surge of “hurray-patriotic” sentiments, the case of the alleged “blinding” of the radar equipment of the destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) unfortunately does not correspond to reality. Since, due to financial constraints, the Khibiny E-175V complex was never installed on Su-24M aircraft.
Su-24MK model with container KS-418E of the Khibiny REP complex
The 1990-2000-e worked out the container case version of the KS-418E with the Khibiny REP model for export Su-24MK, but the matter did not move further than the construction of the models.
Unlike the Su-24M front-line bombers, the Su-24МР reconnaissance aircraft that are available in separate reconnaissance aircraft regiments have not been modernized. Their intelligence equipment, created at the beginning of 80's, is morally and physically outdated and no longer meets modern requirements. But after the cancellation of the supersonic high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft MiG-25РБ reconnaissance version of the "twenty-four" was the only front-line aircraft capable of conducting integrated reconnaissance.
Most likely, the leadership of the Air Force plans to transfer reconnaissance functions to Su-30CM and Su-34 aircraft, equipped with outboard containers with reconnaissance equipment. At present, KKR suspension containers (an integrated reconnaissance container) have been created and are being tested for these machines.
Earlier, the leadership of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has repeatedly stated that all Su-24M and Su-24М2 will be replaced by 2020 with new Su-34 front-line bombers. Even taking into account that during the times of reforming and giving the armed forces a “new look”, a number of aviation bomber regiments armed with Su-24M were eliminated, it is reasonable to doubt that all of the twenty-fours currently available will be replaced in the near future by Su-34 in the ratio of 1: 1.
Su-24M at Shagol airbase
At present, there is a shortage of combat aircraft in the Russian armed forces capable of performing shock missions. Proof of this is the armament of fighters to achieve air superiority of the Su-27CM and Su-35C with unguided aviation weapons of destruction - the NAR and free-falling bombs.
At present, there are about 120 Su-24М and Su-24М2 in the VKS RF. In the light of aggravated relations with the United States and its NATO allies, the hasty abandonment of these aircraft seems completely unfounded. The front-line bombers that received the updated avionics, thanks to which their strike potential does not practically differ from the Su-34, are capable of successfully solving their combat missions for at least 10 years.
The latest events in Syria, where the 34 Su-12M is part of the Russian aviation group of 24 combat aircraft, confirm the relevance of these very effective front-line bombers.
It is noteworthy that Su-24M, transferred to Syria from the Shagol airbase near Chelyabinsk during attacks on IG facilities, use mostly free-fall bombs of old types, most likely from stocks supplied to Syria during the USSR.
The guided high-precision aircraft munitions carry the latest Su-34, apparently, an inviolable stock was “printed out” for them and possibly new products from the export order of Tactical Missile Weapons Corporation were involved.
The author expresses his appreciation for the advice to "Ancient".
Another publication from this series: Service and combat use of the Su-24 front-line bomber. Part 1.