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Su-30SM for Russian naval aviation

Su-30SMOn 19 July 2014, the Irkut corporation delivered three Sukhoi Su-30SM two-seat supermanoeuvrable multirole fighters built by the Irkutsk Aviation Plant for the air arm of the Russian Navy. On the same day, they headed off from Irkutsk to their new station, the Russian Naval Aviation Combat Training and Conversion Centre in the town of Yeisk, Krasnodar Territory. The aircraft, serialled 35, 36 and 37 after having been painted, have been made and factory-tested in May and June this year and become the first ones built under the contract for five Naval Aviation-designed Su-30SMs, landed by Irkut in December 2013.

The three Su-30SMs' delivery to the Russian Naval Aviation Combat Training and Conversion Centre in Yeisk is the first step towards the conversion of several Russian Naval Aviation units to the type. When the first contract for five aircraft of the type was ordered by the Russian Navy last year, it was reported that new contracts were being mulled over for a total of 50-plus Su-30SMs designed to oust the obsolete Su-24 tactical bombers and Su-27 fighters in Naval Aviation units. At last, 6 September 2014 saw the Defence Ministry and Irkut make a contract for seven more Su-30SMs for Naval Aviation during the Gidroaviasalon 2014 air show in Gelendzhik. The deal increased the number of the Navy's firm orders for the type to 12 aircraft.

The Su-30SM is expected to be fielded by 2015 with the Russian Navy Black Sea Fleet's air arm, where the replacement of the obsolete Su-24s has been long overdue. The Baltic Fleet naval aviators are anticipating the advanced aircraft too.

At the same time, the Irkut corporation continues to deliver Su-30SM fighters to RusAF under two 2012-awarded contracts for 60 aircraft. 16 fighter of the type had been accepted by the Air Force Training and Operational Evaluation Centre in Lipetsk and Domna AFB vic. the city of Chita by early 2014. 10 more Su-30SMs had gone to Domna this year (between late May and late September), where the composite air regiment stationed there is having its second air squadron converted to the type. The conversion is to be complete by year-end. The Domna-based regiment has operated as many as 20 Su-30SMs by October 2014.

By November 2014, more than 30 Su-30SM fighters have been built and flight-tested in the city of Irkutsk under all of the current contracts, with 17 aircraft having been made and test-flown since early this year. Irkut President Oleg Demchenko said early this year that a total of 21 Su-30SMs were slated for production for the Russian Defence Ministry in 2014.

(Photo: Nikolai Balabayev)

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