Russian Baltic fleet aviation to get more Su-30SM multirole fighter jets

Russia is rearming the coastal forces of the Baltic fleet whose commander Admiral Nosatov said Bal and Bastion coastal complexes, Iskander operational-tactical missiles, S-400 Triumph air defense systems, Pantsir-S guns, Forpost drones, multirole Su-30SM jets, Ka-27M and Ka-29 helicopters, and other latest and upgraded hardware were supplied in the past three years.

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Russian Baltic fleet aviation to get more Su 30SM multirole jets

Sukhoi Su-30SM multirole fighter jet (Picture source: Wikimedia/ Alex Beltyukov)

The Izvestia daily reported that the airpower of this Russian fleet would be reinforced with multirole Su-30SM fighter jets capable of engaging in air combat and striking at sea and ground targets. The delivery time depends on the fulfillment of the arms procurement order.

The Baltic fleet currently operates one squadron of multirole Su-30SM fighter jets. It operates in the 4th Assault Air Regiment deployed in Kaliningrad. The new jets are likely to comprise the second squadron of the 4th Regiment. However, they may be supplied to the 689th Assault Air Regiment.

TASS earlier reported that Su-30SMs had already been supplied to the Baltic fleet. The first jet arrived in Kaliningrad from Irkutsk in December 2016. Another two fighter jets were delivered in May 2017 followed by three aircraft in August. An unspecified number of Su-30SMs was delivered in 2018-2019. The Baltic fleet said it would get two Su-30SMs in 2021.

In 2017, Su-30SM of the Baltic fleet together with Su-24M frontline bombers participated in Zapad-2017 strategic exercise. They destroyed hostile missiles and aircraft. In 2020, the jets participated in trials of the Gremyashchy corvette of project 20385 in the Baltic Sea and the Petr Morgunov big amphibious assault ship of project 11711. Su-30SM participated in trials of radars and air defense of warships.

Su-30SM is produced in the biggest numbers for the Aerospace Forces and the Navy aviation. The Military Balance 2021 said the former operates 91 jets and the latter — 22. Thus, Russia has a total of over 110 Su-30SMs.

The Defense Ministry signed the first contract with Irkut Corporation for 30 Su-30SMs in March 2012. They had to be supplied by 2015. The first two jets were delivered in November 2012. It was reported in 2016 that the Defense Ministry planned another three-year contract for 20-25 jets each year. 17 Su-30SMs were supplied in 2017 and 14 in 2018, including two for the Navy aviation.

In December 2013, a contract was signed for the first Su-30SM for the Navy. The Black Sea fleet received them in 2015. Head of the Navy aviation Major-General Igor Kozhin said at MAKS-2015 airshow that over 50 Su-30SMs had to be supplied by 2020. However, the number of jets operated by the Navy aviation is likely smaller at present.

Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said in August 2020 that contracts for 21 upgraded Su-30SM2s were planned. Another contract worth 7.2 billion rubles for the overhaul of Su-30 jets is to be signed in 2021. Contracts for the delivery of Su-30SM2 to the Aerospace Forces and the Navy were announced at Army-2020 forum. The deadline and the number of aircraft were not specified.

Su-30SM is upgraded by Irkut Corporation and the Sukhoi Design Bureau. Leading defense enterprises participate in the project. The upgrade increases the combat capabilities of the jet and the range of detection and identification of air targets. The aircraft receives new precision longer-range weapons against air, ground and sea targets.

In January 2019, ground tests of upgraded Su-30SM were completed. The first upgraded aircraft was prepared for trials. Upon their completion, the technical improvements can be introduced into the construction of new Su-30SMs and the overhaul of existing ones.

It was reported in 2018 that UEC-UMPO enterprise was engaged in R&D to upgrade Su-30SMs with AL-41 °F-1S engines. The project was fulfilled by Irkut, the Sukhoi and the UEC-UMPO to unify the engines with Su-35S. The upgrade provided Su-30SM with additional multichannel data exchange, navigation and identification system of the fifth-generation Su-57 fighter jet.

Open sources said the AL-41 °F-1S engine will allow fitting on Su-30SM2 with Irbis N035 phased antenna array radar, which is currently carried by the Su-35S jets. “Su-30SM upgrade, the change of the electronic equipment, which unified Su-35 and Su-30SM to decrease costs, as well as unified weapons can breathe the second life into the aircraft,” Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said in February 2019. The upgraded Su-30SM can open a new niche for Russia in India. “As India has close to 200 Su-30MKI (which are the basic option of Su-30SM), there is a possibility to modernize the fleet and extend its life,” Borisov said.

As the Defense Ministry is reinforcing the Baltic fleet, it can supply Su-30SM2s as a response to NATO reinforcement and deployment of US 5th-generation F-35 fighter jets in the region.

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