Myanmar Air Force receives first two Su-30 fighter jets from Russia

As reported by the Myanmar/Burmese newspaper The Irrawaddy on July 4, Russia delivered the first two of six new Su-30 jet fighters to Myanmar in March, according to several informed sources who formerly served with the Myanmar Air Force.

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Myanmar Air Force receives first two Su 30 fighter jets from Russia 1 Su-30SME performing its maiden flight without its final livery and markings (Picture source: Vinod)

Moscow sent several trainers and technicians to assist the Myanmar Air Force during the warranty period, according to the sources of The Irrawaddy, i.e. former Myanmar Air Force officers who joined the anti-coup movement in 2021. They said the Russian pilots and technicians will stay in Myanmar until the warranty period is over. One source said several of the Russians are staying in Naypyitaw (Myanmar’s capital city) while some are based in Mandalay, the second-largest city of the country. He confirmed that the two new Su-30s are now in a hangar in Naypyitaw, a strategic location in central Myanmar from where they will be able to cover the entire country from the far north to the south.

In 2018, The Irrawaddy recalls, Russia agreed to sell six Su-30 fighter jets to the Myanmar military during Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s visit to Myanmar. “These planes will become the main fighter aircraft of Myanmar’s air force to protect the country’s territorial integrity and repel any terror threats,” Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant General Alexander Fomin was quoted as saying at the time by the Russian news agency TASS.

Prior to the recent delivery of fighter jets, a number of Russian pilots and technicians visited Myanmar as the military regime mounted increasingly frequent air attacks on ethnic armed organizations fighting for greater autonomy and on local People’s Defense Force groups that emerged after the military coup last year.

Sukhoi Su-30SME

Su-30SME is the export version of the Su-30SM, with foreign avionics of other Su-30MKI derivatives replaced with Russian systems, and the possible downgrade of certain systems such as the radar modes and fire control. It was unveiled at the Singapore Airshow 2016, and has been offered to Iran, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, and Myanmar.

Su-30SM (SM for Serijnyi Modernizirovannyi, Serial Modernized. NATO reporting name: Flanker-H) is a specialised version of the thrust-vectoring Su-30MKI for the Russian Air Force, produced by the Irkut Corporation. The Su-30SM 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 8,000 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.