By Stingray, this blog national security journalist
Vietnam’s purchase of one of the globe’s most advance fighter jet from Russia, has tilted the balance of air power in ASEAN, in favor of Vietnam-after a long challenge from Thailand, a key ally of the US.
Russian will supply Vietnam with 12 Su-30MK2 fighter jets under a 1 billion-U.S. dollar arms deal, the Interfax news agency reported Wednesday.
The latest Vietnam purchase of the Su-30MK2, which has troubled NATO planners in Europe with its maneuverability, is expected to help Vietnam regain air supremacy in the Southeast Asia mainland region, said a foreign military attache in Bangkok to this blog. Its only close competitor, are the F-16 used by the Thai air force, other than Malaysia has distanced away, he added.
During the past few years, Thailand started a program to up-grade its fighters fleet. The US and Sweden emerged strong competitors, with the US offering the the advance F18 fighters and Sweden offered the Gripen. Thailand opted for the older Gripen model, namely to replace the outdated F5 fighters.
The purchase sparked a great deal of controversial in Thailand-as the entire ASEAN region had been up-grading their military equipment stack, with most going for highly advance equipments. The Gripen purchase, many observer points out, is a diverging away from the region wide race for the best and most advance.
“A contract was signed last week to deliver 12 more Su-30MK2 fighters to Vietnam. The aircraft will be supplied in 2011-2012,” Interfax quoted the unnamed military-diplomatic source as saying.
The contract, the third major arms deal between Russia and Vietnam over the past year, also included the delivery of various aviation arms, equipment and spare parts, the source said.
Vietnam struck a deal in early 2009 to buy eight Su-30MK2 fighters. During a visit to Moscow by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung last December, a contract also was signed for six Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines.
Vietnam is one of the biggest buyers of Su planes. The Vietnamese Navy already has 12 Su-27s and four Su-30MKs in service. Moreover, 140 MIG-21bis fighters and 53 Su-22MZ bombers were supplied to Vietnam earlier.
Highly flexible multi-role fighter
The Su-30MK is capable of accomplishing a wide variety of combat missions at significant distances from the home base, in any weather conditions and in severe jamming environment, both by day and night.
This multi-role aircraft is adequately fitted for the entire spectrum of tactical and operational combat employment scenarios, varying from counter-air tasks (ie. gaining air superiority, air defense, air patrol and escort) to ground attack, suppression of enemy air defenses, air interdiction, close air support and maritime attack. Additionally, the Su-30MK can perform ECCM and early warning tasks, as well as exercise command-and-control over a group of aerial combat assets performing joint missions. Has 9 g load maneuverability.
Angle of attack
The Su-30MK’s aerodynamic configuration is an unstable-in-longitude triplane (see relaxed stability). To increase lifting effectiveness and enhance maneuverability of the aircraft, canards are installed. They are deflected automatically to ensure controlled flight at high angles-of-attack. Canards, however, are installed only in some Su-30 variants like the Su-30MKI.
Pugachev’s Cobra maneuver
The integrated aerodynamic configuration, combined with the thrust vectoring control ability, results in unprecedented maneuverability and unique takeoff and landing characteristics. Equipped with a digital fly-by-wire system, the Su-30MK is able to perform some very advanced maneuvers. They include the well-known Pugachev’s Cobra and the Bell. This allows the aircraft to rapidly strip airspeed, causing a pursuing fighter to overshoot. While performing a somersault maneuver the aircraft makes 360-degree turn in the pitch plane without any loss of altitude. In the Controlled Flat Spin maneuver the aircraft performs several full turns in the horizontal plane, with zero forward speed, virtually on the spot.
The aircraft’s power plant incorporates two Saturn AL-31F afterburning low-bypass turbofan engines. Two AL-31F turbofans, each rated at 12,500 kgf (123 kN, 27,550 lb) of full afterburning thrust ensures Mach 2 horizontal flight speed, 1,350 km/h speed at low altitude, and a 230 m/s climbing rate.
With a normal fuel reserve of 5,270 kg, the Su-30MK is capable of performing a 4.5-hour combat mission with a range of 3,000 km. An in-flight refueling system increases the flight duration up to 10 hours with a range of 5,200 km (3,231 miles) at cruise altitudes of 11–13 km.
The long range significantly increases deployment options. The missions vary from prolonged patrols, and escorts to long-range intercepts and ground attacks.
Diagonally 2D thrust vectoring control
Differential ±15-degree deflection of the engines’ asymmetric nozzles (with turn axes positioned at 32-deg angle to each other) enables pitch/yaw thrust vectoring control. Depending on the maneuver to be performed, nozzles deflections can be synchronized with or differ from the deflections of horizontal tail planes.