The Su-30 started out as an internal development project in the Sukhoi Su-27 family by Sukhoi. The design plan was revamped and the name was made official by the Russian Defense Ministry in 1996. Of the Flanker family, the Su-27, Su-30, Su-33, Su-34 and Su-35 have been ordered into limited or serial production by the Defense Ministry. The Su-30 has two distinct version branches, manufactured by competing organisations: KnAAPO and the Irkut Corporation, both of which come under the Sukhoi group's umbrella.
KnAAPO manufactures the Su-30MKK and the Su-30MK2, which were designed for and sold to China, and later Indonesia, Uganda, Venezuela, and Vietnam. Due to KnAAPO's involvement from the early stages of developing Su-35, these are basically a two-seat version of the mid-1990s Su-35. The Chinese chose an older but lighter radar so the canards could be omitted in return for increased payload. It is a fighter with both air supremacy and attack capabilities, generally similar to the U.S. F-15E.
Irkut traditionally served the Soviet Air Defense and, in the early years of Flanker development, was given the responsibility of manufacturing the Su-27UB, the two-seat trainer version. When India showed interests in the Su-30, Irkut offered the multirole Su-30MKI, which originated as the Su-27UB modified with avionics appropriate for fighters. Along with its ground-attack capabilities, the series adds features for the air-superiority role, such as canards, thrust-vectoring, and a long-range phased-array radar. Its derivatives include the Su-30MKM, MKA, and SM for Malaysia, Algeria, and Russia, respectively. The Russian Air Force operates several Su-30s and has ordered the Su-30SM version.
While the original Su-27 had good range, it still did not have enough range for the Soviet Air Defense Forces (PVO, as opposed to VVS – the Soviet Air Force). The Air Defense Forces needed to cover the vast expanse of the Soviet Union. Hence, development began in 1986 on the Su-27PU, an improved-capability variant of the Su-27 capable of serving as a long-range interceptor or airborne command post.
The two-seat Su-27UB combat trainer was selected as the basis for the Su-27PU, because it had the performance of a single-seat Su-27 with seating for two crew members. A "proof-of-concept" demonstrator flew 6 June 1987, and this success led to the kick-off of development work on two Su-27PU prototypes. The first Su-27PU flew at Irkutsk on 31 December 1989, and the first of three pre-production models flew on 14 April 1992.
The integrated aerodynamic configuration, combined with the thrust vectoring control ability, results in high manoeuvrability and unique takeoff and landing characteristics. Equipped with a digital fly-by-wire system, the Su-30 is able to perform some very advanced manoeuvres, including the Pugachev's Cobra and the tailslide. These manoeuvers quickly decelerate the aircraft, causing a pursuing fighter to overshoot, as well as breaking a Dopplerradar-lock, as the relative speed of the aircraft drops below the threshold where the signal registers to the radar.
The aircraft's powerplant incorporates two Saturn AL-31F afterburninglow-bypass turbofan engines, fed through intake ramps. Two AL-31Fs, each rated at 123 kN (28,000 lbf) of full afterburning thrust ensures Mach 2 in level flight, 1,350 km/h speed at low altitude, and a 230 m/s climbing rate.
With a normal fuel reserve of 5,270 kg, the Su-30MK is capable of performing a 4.5-hour combat mission with a range of 3,000 km. An aerial refueling system increases the range to 5,200 km (3,200 mi) or flight duration up to 10 hours at cruise altitudes.
The aircraft features autopilot ability at all flight stages including low-altitude flight in terrain-following radar mode, and individual and group combat employment against air and ground/sea-surface targets. Automatic control system interconnected with the navigation system ensures route flight, target approach, recovery to airfield and landing approach in automatic mode.
The Russian Defence Ministry ordered 60 Su-30SMs under two contracts signed in March and December 2012, respectively, with deliveries completed by 2016. On 21 September 2012, the Su-30SM performed its maiden flight and first two aircraft were delivered to the Russian Air Force on 22 November 2012. Another contract for 28 aircraft was signed in April 2016, with deliveries completed in 2018. The Su-30SM was officially accepted into service with the Russian Aerospace Forces by a resolution of the Russian president in January 2018.
During the 2017 MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon, it was reported Russian Defence Ministry and Irkut Corporation are working on modernization of Russia's Su-30SM fighters to the new Su-30SM1 standard. In early August 2019, a contract for modernization was signed. The aircraft will receive the N035 Irbis radar and AL-41F1S engines of the Su-35S, thus reducing operational costs of the two variants. In addition, Su-30SM1's armament will be enhanced of the new KAB-250 aerial bombs and Kh-59MK2 stealth cruise missiles. First deliveries to the Russian Aerospace Forces are scheduled for end-2020 and first squadron is to be formed by 2021.
In September 2015, Su-30SM fighters were deployed for the first time to the Bassel Al-Assad International Airport in Latakia, Syria. At least four Su-30SM fighters were spotted in a satellite photo. In late December 2015, there were 16 Su-30SMs at Khmeimim Air Base. As a part of their combat deployment, they provided target illumination for bombers that launch airstrikes against Islamist rebel groups.
Su-30SMs were initially tasked with aerial escort of Russian attack jets or strategic bombers. Later during the operations, they were tasked to air to ground duties too. On 21 March 2017, rebel forces launched a new offensive in the Hama province; a few days later a video emerged showing a Russian Air Force Su-30SM striking ground targets with unguided air to ground rockets in a dive attack against the rebels.
On 3 May 2018, a Russian Air Force Su-30 crashed shortly after take-off from the Khmeimim Air Base, killing both crew members.
According to the Yury Borisov, the reliability indicators of the Su-30SM and Su-35S deployed to Syria exceeded the projected levels by several times citing "The achieved reliability indicators… of the new Su-35 and Su-30SM aircraft in intensive combat operation were three-four times higher than the standard."
In January 2016, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan mentioned that Russia had discussed the possibility of supplying Su-30 fighters to Armenia during a four-day Russian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on bilateral military-technical cooperation.
In February 2016, Russia and Belarus concluded a preliminary agreement that would see the export of an undisclosed number of Su-30s to Belarus.
Iran's defense minister announced in February 2016 that the country intends to buy an undisclosed number of the Su-30SM fighters.
Modernized Su-27UB. 5 units operated by the Russian Air Defence Forces.
Commercial (export) version of the basic Su-30. The Indian Air Force briefly operated some Su-30Ks in the late 1990s.
Sukhoi proposal for upgrading Russian AF single seat Su-27S. Also proposed export version for Indonesia, 24 were ordered but subsequently cancelled due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
Upgrade project for operational two-seat fighters, the Su-27UB, Su-30 and Su-30K. This was cancelled in Russia but later revived as Su-30M2. Belarus consider updating ex-Indian Su-30K to the Su-30KN standard.
MKI stands for "Modernizirovannyi, Kommercheskiy, Indiski" meaning "Modernized, Commercial, Indian". Jointly developed with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Air Force. It is the first Su-30 family member to feature thrust vectoring control (TVC) and canards. Equipped with a multinational avionics complex sourced from Russia, India, France and Israel.
A version of the Su-30MKI, except with French and Russian avionics for Algeria.
The Su-30SM (SM for Serial, Modernized) (Flanker-H by NATO classification) is considered a 4+ generation fighter jet. The aircraft has been upgraded according to Russian military requirements for radar, radio communications systems, friend-or-foe identification system, ejection seats, weapons, and other aircraft systems. It is equipped with the N011M Bars radar with a maximum detection range 400 km, search range 200 km using a phased array antenna, frontal horizontal fins and steerable thrusters for supermaneuverability as well as with wide-angle HUD. The aircraft can be used to gain air supremacy same as for targeting adversary on the ground using wide range of weapons including air-to-air, air-to-surface and guided and unguided bombs with total weapons weight up to 8000 kg. It is also equipped with the one barrel, 30 mm GSh-30-1 autocannon. To ensure operations at major distances from airfield, the ability of in-flight refueling (IFR) is included. Besides that, for electronic warfare purposes two SAP-518 jamming pods can be fitted on the wing tips. The SAP-518 is designed to protect the aircraft from various air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles by creating false targets, jamming missile's guidance, enemy aircraft radars or ground and seaborne air defence.
Proposed export version of Su-30SM unveiled at the Singapore Airshow 2016.
An upgrade project of Russian Su-30SM fighters, equipped with the N035 Irbis radar and more powerful AL-41F1S engines of the Su-35S, with goal to reduce operational costs when unify the two fighters. The modernized fighters will also obtain new types of weapons, namely the KAB-250 aerial bombs and Kh-59MK2 stealth cruise missile. Over time, it is planned to upgrade all Russia's Su-30SMs to the SM1 standard. First deliveries are scheduled for end-2020.
Export version for China. MKK (short for: Модернизированный Коммерческий Китайский, romanized: Modernizirovanniy Kommercheskiy Kitayskiy, lit. ''Modernized Commercial for China''). Its NATO reporting name is 'Flanker-G'.
Modernized Su-30MKK for China, Indonesia and Uganda with advanced avionics and weapons.
Su-30MK2 variant for Vietnam with minor modifications.
Export version of Su-30MK2 for Venezuela.
A version from manufacturer KnAAPO based on the Su-30MK2. The Russian Air Force placed an initial order for the variant in 2009. Factory tests were completed in September 2010. Twenty aircraft have been ordered; 4 in 2009 and 16 in 2012. At least 12 have been produced as of August 2014, all four from the first contract in 2009, and eight from the second contract of 2012. They are mostly to be used as combat training aircraft for upgraded Su-27SM fighters.
Angolan Air Force has ordered 12 out of 18 former Indian Su-30K fighters on 16 October 2013 as part of a $1 billion deal that also includes other equipment and maintenance services for the country. The Su-30Ks were initially delivered to India in 1997–1998, but were returned to Russia in 2007 in exchange for 18 full-fledged Su-30MKI fighters. Angola received first 2 aircraft in September 2017, 4 aircraft in 2018 and the rest in April 2019. Angolan Su-30Ks were also upgraded to the "SM" standard.
Armenian Air Force has ordered 4 Su-30SMs in February 2019, with deliveries expected to begin in 2020. Armenia plans to acquire additional Su-30SM aircraft, according to the Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan.
Indonesian Air Force has ordered a combined 11 Su-30MKK/MK2 fighters (2 Su-30MKK and 9 Su-30MK2). As of September 2013 it has all Su-30MKK/MK2s in inventory.
Kazakh Air Force has ordered in total 24 Su-30SM fighters under three contracts. It received the first 4 Su-30SMs under the first contract worth of 5 billion rubles in April 2015. The second contract for 8 aircraft was signed in December 2015. First two aircraft of the second order were delivered in December 2016 and another two in December 2017. The third order for 12 more aircraft was approved in August 2017 and 8 of the 12 aircraft were ordered in May 2018. Last 4 Su-30SMs under the second contract were delivered in December 2018. It has 12 Su-30SMs in service as of December 2018.
Russian Air Force has 3 Su-30s, 20 Su-30M2s and 92 Su-30SM fighters as of December 2018 with 8 delivered to Russian Knights aerobatic team. In April 2016, Russia placed a second order for 28 aircraft to increase the total number of the variant in the Air Force to 88, the deliveries were completed in 2018.
Venezuelan Air Force and the government of Venezuela announced on 14 June 2006 the purchase of 24 Su-30MK2 fighters. The first two Su-30MK2s arrived in early December 2006 while another eight were commissioned during 2007; 14 more aircraft arrived in 2008. A second batch of 12 Su-30MKV was also being considered in 2009. It has 24 Su-30MK2s as of January 2012. In October 2015, Venezuela announced the purchase of 12 more Su-30MK2 from Russia for $480 million.
Vietnam People's Air Force operates 4 Su-30MKs and 20 Su-30MK2Vs in 2013. On 21 August 2013, Russia announced it would deliver another batch of 12 Su-30MK2s under a $450 million contract, with deliveries in 2014–2015.