Sukhoi SU-30MKM – The Cobra

The Sukhoi Su-30MKM (Modernizirovannyi Kommercheskiy Malaysia – Modernized Export Malaysia) is a supermaneuverable fighter of the Royal Malaysian Air Force. It is a variant of the Su-30 series fighters, with many significant improvements over the original Su-30MK export version.

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The Su-30MKM was developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau and is based on the Su-30MKI of the Indian Air Force. Both aircraft have common airframe, thrust vectoring engines and digital fly-by-wire system, However the MKM version differs from the MKI mainly in the composition of the onboard avionics.

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In 2003, Malaysia committed to purchase 18 Su-30MKMs. In August 2003, Malaysia signed a US$900 million contract with Irkut Corporation for 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKMs. The first two aircraft were handed over to the RMAF on May 2007 at Irkut’s aircraft manufacturing facility at Irkutsk, Russia. The two aircraft were later delivered to RMAF Gong Kedak, Malaysia on June 2007 by an An-124-100. By December 2007, seven months after the delivery of the first two aircraft, the RMAF had taken delivery of six Su-30MKMs. The eighteenth and last aircraft arrived at RMAF Gong Kedak on August 2009 with the three other aircraft of its batch.

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The MKM version differs from the MKI mainly in the composition of the onboard avionics. Thales supplies the Head-up display (HUD), navigational forward-looking IR system NAVFLIR and the Damocles targeting pod. The aircraft carries missile approach warning sensor (MAWS) and laser warning sensor (LWS) manufactured by Avitronics (South Africa). The Su-30MKM can legitimately claim super-maneuverability via digital fly-by-wire, canards, and two Saturn AL-31FP engines with thrust vectoring producing 27,500 lb thrust each with afterburners. This gives them an edge in close-in fights, allowing the pilot to rapidly point the plane at potential targets to draw them within the AA-11/R-73 Archer’s wide infrared seeker cone. The aircraft is capable of conducting SEAD mission when equipped with two KNIRTI SAP-518 jamming pods and Kh-31P anti-radiation missiles. The KNIRTI SAP-518 covers NATO surface-to-air and air-to-air threats in the G-J bands. It is equipped with NIIP N011M phased array radar for long range aerial combat which can track up to 15 targets and engage 4 targets simultaneously. It can also be equipped with a Thales Damocles Laser Designation Pod (Thales) surveillance & targeting pod for precision ground attack. It has a rear-facing radar, HUD (Thales), NAVFLIR (Navigation Forward Looking Infra-red) (French). Missile Approaches Warning System (MAWS) & laser warning sensor (LWS) supplied by Saab Avitronics of South Africa.

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General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 21.935 m (72.97 ft)
  • Wingspan: 14.7 m (48.2 ft)
  • Height: 6.36 m (20.85 ft)
  • Wing area: 62.0 m² (667 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 18,400 kg (40,565 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 26,090 kg (57,520 lb) typical mission weight ()
  • Max. takeoff weight: 38,800 kg (85,600 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Lyulka AL-31FP thrust vectoring turbofans, 123 kN with afterburner (27,560 lbf) each

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Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.0 (2,100 km/h or 1,300 mph) at altitude; 1,350 km/h, 839 mph near ground level
  • Range: 3,000 km (1,620 nmi) at altitude; (1,270 km, 690 nmi near ground level; with no external fuel tanks)
  • Ferry range: 8,000 km (4,320 nmi) with two in-flight refuellings
  • Endurance: 3.75 hrs (up to 10 hrs with in-flight refuelling)
  • Service ceiling: 17,300 m (56,800 ft)
  • Rate of climb: >300 m/s (>45,275 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 401 kg/m² (82.3 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.96
  • Maximum g-load: +9 g

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Armament

  • Guns: 1 × 30 mm GSh-30-1 gun (150 rounds)
  • Hardpoints: 12 (2 × wing-tip AAM launch rails, 6 × pylons under-wing, 2 × pylon under-engine nacelle, and 2 × pylons in tandem in the “arch” between the engines. It can be increased to 14 using multiple ejector racks. with a capacity of 8 tonnes of external stores.
  • Missiles:
    • Air-to-air missiles:
      • 10 × R-77 (AA-12) active radar homing medium range AAM
      • 6 × R-27ER (AA-10C) semi-active radar guided, long range AAM
      • 6 × R-27ET (AA-10D) Infrared homing extended range version, long range AAM
      • 2 × R-27R (AA-10A) semi-active radar guided, medium range AAM
      • 2 × R-27T (AA-10B) infrared homing seeker, medium range AAM
      • 6 × R-73 (AA-11) short range AAM
      • 3 × Novator KS-172 AAM-L
    • Air-to-ground missiles:
      • 3 × Kh-59ME TV guided standoff Missile
      • 3 × Kh-59MK active radar homing anti-ship missile
      • 4 × Kh-35 anti-ship missile
      • 6 × Kh-31P/A anti-radar missile
      • 6 × Kh-29T/L laser-guided missile
  • Bombs:
    • 8 × KAB-500L laser-guided bombs
    • 3 × KAB-1500L laser-guided bombs
    • 8 × FAB-500T unguided bomb
    • 28 × OFAB-250-270 unguided bombs
    • 32 × OFAB-100-120
    • 4 × S-8 rocket pods (80 unguided rockets)
    • 4 × S-13 rocket pods (20 unguided rockets)

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Avionics

  • Radar:
    • NIIP N011M PESA radar
  • Countermeasures:
    • KNIRTI SAP-518 electronic countermeasure pod

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