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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Super Su-30MKI: From Air Dominance To Air Supremacy

Come 2012 the first batch of 50 Sukhoi Su-30MKI multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA), which were delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF) between 2001 and 2003, will be shipped back to Russia’s IRKUT Corp in Irkutsk where they will be refurbished and upgraded from into formidable air supremacy MRCAs (to be called Super Su-30MKI), and delivered back to the IAF starting 2014. The upgrades, costing Rs109.2 billion, will include the strengthening and service life-extension of the Su-30MKI airframes; and installation of uprated turbofans, new glass cockpit avionics, mission management avionics, and integrated defensive aids suites. This will be followed by another batch of 42 new-build Su-30MKIs to be subjected to identical upgrades, with deliveries of these aircraft beginning in 2015 and ending in 2018. It is expected that in future the Su-30MKMs of Malaysia and Su-30MKAs of Algeria too will be subjected to such ‘deep’ upgrade programmes.

The airframe strengthening programme for the 50 Su-30MKIs, when completed, will enable each of the 50 Su-30MKIs to carry two 290km-range underwing BrahMos supersonic multi-role (land-attack and maritime strike) cruise missiles (which itself is presently undergoing a weight reduction exercise), and also accommodate two uprated Lyulka AL-31FP turbofans. The AL-31FP, presently rated at 126kN with afterburning, will offer 20% more power when uprated by NPO Saturn—its manufacturer--and will have a total technical service life of 6,000 hours, instead of the present 2,000 hours. The uprated engine will also employ a larger diameter fan, redesigned key hot-end components and cooling system technologies to permit reduced thrust lapse rates with altitude, which in turn will permit supercruise flight regimes. Also to be incorporated into the uprated engine will be new-generation full-authority digital engine controls (FADEC) as well as all-axis thrust-vectoring nozzles (±15 degrees in the vertical plane and ±8 degrees in the horizontal plane, with deflection angle rates of up to 60 degrees per second). The digital flight-control computer too will be replaced to achieve harmonisation of the digital flight control laws associated with supercruise and all-aspect supermanoeuvrability.

The glass cockpit avionics package, developed by Russia’s Avionica MRPC and Tekhnocomplex Scientific and Production Centre, will include new-generation hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls made by KB Aviaavtomatika, panoramic active-matrix liquid crystal displays, and a compact OLS infra-red search-and-track sensor developed by the Ekaterinburg-based Urals Optical & Mechanical Plant. The mission management avionics package will include dual redundant core avionics computers developed by the Defence Research & development Organisation’s (DRDO) Bangalore-based Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) and built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The integrated defensive aids suite, now being developed by a joint venture of DARE and Cassidian of Germany, will include the MILDS AN/AAR-60 missile approach warning system (MAWS).
The open-architecture IDAS has been under joint development by DARE and Germany-based Cassidian since 2006, and will include the AAR-60(V)2 MILDS F missile approach warning system, the EW management computer and Tarang Mk3 radar warning receiver (developed by DARE and built by Bharat Electronics Ltd), a countermeasures dispenser built by Bharat Dynamics Ltd, TsNIRTI-developed expendable active electronic decoys, a reusable fibre-optic ABRL active radar towed-decoy using suppression, deception and seduction techniques, and  an internal EW suite supplied by Elettronica of Italy (the very same Virgilius suite that is on board the MiG-29UPG). The Virgilius family of directional jammers, which are also used by the Eurofighter EF-2000, make use of active phased-array transmitters for jamming hostile low-band (E-G) and high-band (G-J) emitters, and is considered an equivalent of the AESA aperture-based jammers of THALES’ Spectra EW suite. The ABRL can be deployed manually from the cockpit, or automatically upon threat detection. It provides active interference to the terminal guidance of incoming air combat/surface-to-air missiles in order to provide for an increased miss-distance to outside lethal range. The ABRL features four rear-mounted lattice control fins to provide for decoy control and providing a certain amount of drag for enhanced stability during extreme manoeuvring. The advantages of lattice controls are that they can be folded down to facilitate carriage (in this application) inside a compact launch tube, are capable of unstalled operation at up to 50-degree angles of attack, and significantly reduce the demands placed on their actuators. In essence, they provide a great deal of lifting area despite having a very small chord, so combine outstanding effectiveness with comparatively small hinge moments. In the ABRL, the lattice fins are hinged forward into a recess in the decoy body and deploy rearwards upon decoy deployment.
The principal on-board mission management avionics components of the upgraded Su-30MKIs will be the multi-mode MIRES X-band active electronically steered-array (AESA) multi-mode radar (MMR), developed and built by the V Tikhomirov Scientific-Research Institute of Instrument Design along with Ryazan Instrument-Making Plant Federal State Unitary Enterprise, and modular L-band and S-band transmit/receive (T/R) modules that will be housed within the Su-30MKI’s forward wing and wing-root sections, as well as on the vertical tail sections. The MIRES, using the back-end elements of the Su-30MKI’s existing NO-11M ‘Bars’ PESA-based MMR, will be able to simultaneously perform up to five ‘core’ functions, comprising look-up and shoot-up; look-down and shoot-down; directional jamming of hostile data-links; real-beam ground mapping via Doppler-beam sharpening in the inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) mode; and ground moving target indication. This will give the Super Su-30MKIs an unprecedented degree of all-round situational awareness and interleaving mission synchronicity (performed by the two-man crew), which will be available, for the most part, from only the F/A-18 Super Hornet’s International Roadmap variant once it becomes available from 2013 onwards.  

The MIRES radar’s GaAs-based RF components (transistors, diodes and MMICs) have been developed and made by Moscow-based NPO ‘Istok’. The wing-/tail-mounted L-band or S-band T/R modules will be employed for secondary airspace surveillance, as well as for missile approach warning and directional jamming of airborne tactical data-links associated with BVRAAMs and AEW & C platforms, thus transforming the upgraded Su-30MKI into a combined airborne early warning/tactical battlespace management platform. With operating in wavelengths of between 6 and 12 inches, L-band permits good long-range airspace search performance with modestly-sized antennae, while providing excellent weather penetration and reasonably well-behaved ground clutter environments, compared to shorter wavelength bands. The basic L-band modular AESA array design and its integration into the leading edge flap structure have already been flight-certified. The physical alignment of the array is with the leading edge of the wing, at 42 degrees for the Su-30MKI’s airframe. Each array will employ 12 antenna elements. Three quad T/R modules each drive four antenna elements, for a total of 12 elements per array, in three sub-arrays. The linear array is embedded in the leading edge of the wing flap, with the geometrical broadside direction normal to the leading edge. The leading edge skin of the flap covering the AESA is a dielectric radome, which is conformal with the flap leading-edge shape. The array geometry produces a fan-shaped main lobe, which is swept in azimuth by phase control of the 12 T/R modules, providing a two dimensional volume-search capability. The arrangement of the AESA produces a fan-shaped beam, which is swept in azimuth to cover a volume in the forward hemisphere of the aircraft. The distributed AESA arrays (X-band, L-band and an optional S-band) are nothing less than the ‘shared multifunction aperture’ model now very popular in the design of Western X-band AESA-based MMRs, including the Raytheon APG-79 and Northrop Grumman APG-80. However, the greatest advantage of such on-board distributed AESA arrays is that they will convert the Su-30MKI into a mini-AEW & C platform capable of undertaking tactical airborne battle management tasks in support of offensive air campaigns deep within hostile airspace, thereby doing away with the need for dedicated AEW & C platforms, which could then be more gainfully employed for strategic airspace surveillance-cum-management. Thus far, the IAF has projected a requirement for 50 Su-30MKIs to be configured as mini-AEW & C platforms.

Other new-generation avionics to be installed on the Super Su-30MKI will include the RAM-1701AS radio altimeter, TACAN-2901AJ and DME-2950A tactical air navigation system combined with the ANS-1100A VOL/ILS marker, CIT-4000A Mk12 IFF transponder, COM-1150A UHF standby comms radio, UHF SATCOM transceiver, and the SDR-2010 SoftNET four-channel software-defined radio (working in VHF/UHF and L-band for voice and data communications), and the Bheem-EU brake control/engine/electrical monitoring system, all of which have been developed in-house by the Hyderabad-based Strategic Electronics R & D Centre of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The digital air data computers and flight data recorders and their automated test benches will be supplied by Bengaluru-based SLN Technologies Pvt Ltd.

For air dominance operations the upgraded Su-30MKI will be armed with two types of new-generation air combat missiles from Vympel JSC: the RVV-MD within-visual-range missile, and the RVV-SD beyond-visual-range missile. The RVV-MD’s maximum range is 40km (the existing R-73E has 30km range) and comes equipped with a two-colour imaging infra-red sensor that has +/-60-degree off-boresight tracking capability. The manoeuvre controls are aero- and gas-dynamical. The maximum angle-of-attack is significantly higher than that of the R-73E, and can hit targets that are manoeuvring at 12 G. The RVV-SD has a maximum range of 110km and engage targets flying at an altitude of 25km. Equipped with both laser-based and contact fuzes, the RVV-SD has a 22.5kg warhead, mass of 190kg, length of 3.71 metres, diameter of 0.2 metres, and wingspan of 0.42 metres. It too can engage targets manoeuvring at 12G. The guidance system is inertial for the middle course, with radio-correction and a jam-resistant active radar for the terminal phase.

Like the existing Su-30MKIs, the upgraded models too will be equipped with COBHAM's 754 buddy-buddy refuelling pod (20 units have already been delivered to the IAF to date), Elbit Systems’ Condor 2 LOROP pod, IAI/ELTA’s ELM-2060P ISAR pod, and RAFAEL’s Litening-3 laser designator pod. To date, India has ordered a total of 272 Su-30MKIs, with deliveries continuing till 2018. Thus far, about 120 Su-30MKIs have been delivered to the IAF. These are presently deployed with the Lohegaon, Pune-based No2 ‘Winged Arrows’ Sqn, No20 ‘Lightnings’ Sqn, No30 ‘Rhinos’ Sqn and No31 ‘Lions’ Sqn; Bareilly-based No24 ‘Hunting Hawks’ Sqn; Tezpur-based No8 ‘Pursoots’ Sqn; and No102 ‘Trisonics’ Sqn at Chabua.—Prasun K. Sengupta

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun,
Thanks for the article , but will the upgrade give the same LCD Screen as seen in the photo??
Any new air to ground weapons you think will be included.
Also we read in most of the blogs and news that su30mki will carry only one brahmos.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

The AMLCD configuration is derived from what was originally designed for the Su-35. It will apply to the Super Su-30MKI as well. As for new-generation air-to-ground PGMs as and when they become available from Russia or elsewhere, depending on the operational reqmts, they will be easily integrated with the Super Su-30MKI's navigation-and-attack system due to its open-architecture design. The Su-30MKI can presently accommodate only one BrahMos in its underbelly without any structural modifications to the airframe. But since the IAF has specified that it wants two underwing-mounted BrahMos missiles to be carried by a Su-30MKI, IAF-specific structural modifications to the Su-30MKI airframe are required.
Also to be noted is that the IAF has gone for the distributed AESA-array configuration (for the mini-AEW & C role) primarily as a back-up capability just in case the DRDO/CABS is unable to deliver the indigenous AEW & CS on time. In addition, have an embedded mini-AEW & C capability within a strike package oriented towards offensive air campaigns has some unique advantages aimed at neutralising the force-multiplier capabilities offered by hostile AEW & C platforms. This is an entirely standalone issue that I will dwell upon in future.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply Prasun, Previously i had read that after the upgrade the super SU30MKI will be carrying weapons internally, a picture was there in the Force Magazine. Will this upgrade include this as well or is this idea dropped.

Also if an arrangement is done for the SU30MKI to carry wepons internally then how will it compare to the silent eagle.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

What Sukhoi OKB has done is offer to the IAF two prospective upgrade paths: one which is the Super Su-30MKI upgrade and which the IAF has accepted. The other one concerns the photo you're referring to. The latter proposal calls for the Su-30MKI's airframe to be modified to include reconfigured air intakes and internal weapons stowage in the underbelly. Both upgrade proposals are essentially selective applications of technologies now being developed for the PAK-FA and PMF/FGFA. The stealthy Su-30MKI has been designed for specifically for two tasks: retaining the edge in beyond-visual-range air combat despite the availability of hostile AEW & C capabilities; and the destruction of hostile ground-based air-defence networks/systems. However, for these two tasks to be executed, one requires a new generation of long-range multi-mode BVRAAMs (like the Meteor) and standoff PGMs (both anti-radiation missiles & small-diameter loitering PGMs equipped with tri-mode seekers). Development of these two types of weapons within Russia has fallen behind schedule, but will likely be available by 2016. Only by then will the stealthy Su-30MKI option be seriously looked at by the IAF. At the moment, though, the Boeing F-15SE has the upper hand as it is being made available for immediate export.

Anonymous said...

Grand news and information.

Anonymous said...

Sir, dont you think this mini awacs format will be too much for the two pilots to handle. one of the main criticism of 5th gen aircraft is that too much of data for the pilot to handle. will there be networking of multiple platforms for the miniawacs which is integrated to a main awacs platform. or the automation will suffice.
But atleast it looks too good, cant wait...:)

Anonymous said...

Will all the MKI's in IAF inventory get this upgrade?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@5.23PM: As I've explained above in my first comment, the mini-AEW & C variant of the Su-30MKI will be responsible for only 'tactical' airborne battle management, and not for theatre-wide airspace surveillance. Which means that in a typical strike package, there will be two mini-AEW & C Su-30MKIs (each equipped with up to six BVRAAMs) flying a race-track pattern, plus up to six strike aircraft, plus two Su-30MKIs armed with BVRAAMs and WVRAAMs for air superiority. All the participating aircraft will be equipped with the operational data-link (ODL) so that all of them are constantly exchanging in real-time the same tactical air situation picture. The excess workload of the FGFA you're referring to concerns the 'interleaving' air-to-air and air-to-ground functions to be fulfilled by a solitary aircrew, a scenario that will not prevail with the strike package I've described above.

To Anon@5.41PM: To start with, the IAF is only upgrading its first 50Su-30MKIs. But the remainder will in the years to come will be similarly upgraded, although not all will have the distributed AESA capability. But eventually all Su-30MKis will have the MIRES X-band AESA-based MMR.

Anonymous said...

Really excellent article........the detailing is amazing...pls keep them coming !!!

One small clarification.....on the location of the 7 sqdns....I had thought that Bareilly had two sqdns (8 and 24), with 3 at Pune (20,30 and 31) and one each at Tezpur(2) and Chauba (102).....

Total numbers are just over 120....how many to be delivered this year ?? 15-18 ?? And based where....Halwara ?? Jodhpur ?? Sqdn no 45 ???

Once again, really excellent article.

I wish you would start writing/appearing in the main media (print and electronic)...rather than only once a month in the Force.......

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@9.23PM: Many thanks. Regarding the deployment of Su-30MKI squadrons, the procvedure being followed by the IAF is to have the maximum concentration in Pune only as a temporary measure, simply due to the ready availability of Su-30MKI tactical simulators, cockpit procedures trainers and weapons employment part-task simulators there. Eventually, the idea is to deploy during peacetime at least two squadrons per air base, with each such base housing a Su-30MKI tactical simulator, a cockpit procedures trainer and weapons employment part-task simulator. This rather visionary roadmap now being implemented was the brainchild of the former CAS of IAF, ACM S Krishnaswamy, and is a pathbreaking effort being put into force for the very first time within the IAF. The maximum peacetime concentration of Su-30MKIs will, however, be limited to the central Indian plains, the Deccan Plateau and in southern India, thereby keeping such air bases outside the envelope of cruise missiles like the Babur/CJ-10/CJ-20. Consequently, air bases such Halwara, Pathankot, Leh, Avantipura, Chabua and Tezpur will be equipped to house the Su-30MKIs, but not in large numbers even during peacetime.
Annual deliveries of Su-30MKIs have not yet breached the figure of 12.
The stories that I've already uploaded have, since last April, been translated for into Hindi and are now regularly appearing in the Hindi magazine HAMARI FAUJ. Anyone else who's interested in translating them into any other language from the vernacular press within India is more than welcome to do so totally for free.

buddha said...

the Wikipedia shows the number is

152 is it correct

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

No it isn't. The figure is lower than 150.

Anonymous said...

Hello sir...simply amazing article.Hats off to you sir.
Sir will super SU 30 MKi be able to carry all the weapons(a2a,a2g etc)along with 2 brahmos missiles? And along with external fuel tank?
And where will it be placed?under wings?coz only 1 brahmos can be acoomodated under belly of su 30 mki

Anonymous said...

So if most of these squadrons are being based in south and central India, are the ALGs in nyoma,DBO etc more for supply/logitics?

I always felt they were too close to the border, some probably within rocket range.

I was wondering if iron dome like system be good for these ALGs or would the cost be too prohibitive?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@5.20PM: Along with two underwing BrahMos MRCMs, the upgraded Su-30MKI will be able to carry four R-77 and two R-73E AAMs. No underbelly fuel tank will be reqd as aerial refuelling support will be available.

To Anon@5.21PM: ALGs are just airstrips meant for aerial logistics support, and are not air bases equipped with runways, blast pens, HAS, MRO hangars and ATC systems. The Akash Mk1 E-SHORADS will more than suffice for providing air-defence for these airstrips.

Paul said...

More than your amazing articles your prompt response for our doubts makes us really happy. Thank you.

I have some questions for you, and they are:
What is the RCS for the upgraded SU30 MKI's?
Any possibilities of fitting new Engines for more power?
Does the upgrade incorporate any stealth characteristics?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Paul: The RCS of the Super Su-30MKI will remain the same as that of the Su-30MKI. AL-31FP engine's thrust-level will be increased by 20% (since this very same engine will also power the FGFA/PMF). The airframe will not have any add-on stealth features.

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Anonymous said...

The technical description on L-band radar was almost entirely lifted from Air Power Australia website article written by Dr Carlo Kopp.

Able said...
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Anonymous said...

Is all the MKI's in the IAF going to have this superior upgrade?, are they really going to upgrade the engines with more thrust?

Anonymous said...

I just hope all of this is true !!!!!!!!!

radha said...

Great article Mr Sengupta, Your blog is the most informative in India among other defence blogs .But some times i feel you reveal too much details which make me uneasy , but that will also scare the enemy as well.
I just really wonder why we are not going in for the ks-172 missile with the latest upgrade, I hear the Russians have banned it from exports ,but given their love for money we can always pressurize them for the missile or even develop one our own ,ie if we have the source codes of the radar to integrate the new missile . Do we have the source codes of these new AESA radars?. Or are we still at the mercy of them . An article on the advantages of the ks-172 missile will be highly appreciated

radha

Santanu said...

Hi Prasun,
As far as I know the upgraded Su30 MKI will have larger LCD displays (4 Nos. 12"x9" and 1 No. 6"x8") against the 6 Nos. 5"x5" and 1 No. 6"x6" displays which are used in the current version. What is the information available with you?