The Sukhoi design bureau is in full flow with its flight test programme as series production is launched by IAPO

Irkutsk Aircraft Production Association (IAPO) has completed four pre-production batch Sukhoi Su-30MKI and launched series production of the multirole fighter with intent to deliver 10 to the Indian air force in the first quarter of the next year.

The fourth aircraft was handed over to the Sukhoi design bureau on 11 August and has joined three IAPO-built Su-30MKIs and one prototype built by Sukhoi's experimental factory that are employed in the flight-test programme. Full Su-30MKI certification is planned within two years.

The 10 first batch aircraft are described as "Su-30MKI Stage I", and two more stages are being considered. Stage II and III are aimed at integrating new weapons and perfecting the flight control system (FCS). For the latter, Sukhoi is using Su-35 number 711, which was fitted with thrust vectoring engines. The aircraft now has an improved FCS that Sukhoi says "without the use of thrust vectoring permits super agility" using just aerodynamic control surfaces.

Work is also being done on improving the thrust-vectoring-equipped NPO Saturn AL-31PF engines, installed onSu-30MKIs. Saturn has also delivered to India a first batch of AL-31Fs with a 1,000h time between overhaul for its 18 Su-30Ks. A programme to eliminate a fuel collector clogging problem on Indian aircraft is "in place and working", says Victor Chepkin, Saturn senior manager for scientific and research programmes.

Meanwhile, China was due take delivery of a batch of 10 Su-30MKK multirole fighters last week. These were built at AVPK Sukhoi's KnAAPO factory at Komsomolsk-upon-Amur. Russian radar manufacturer Leninets is using a converted Tupolev Tu-134 as a systems integration and radar testbed as part of the development programme for the Su-27IB multirole strike aircraft.

The Tu-134Sh has a radar installation identical in profile to the "platypus" nose of the Su-27IB. This houses an electronically scanned phased array radar. At least two Su-27IB are believed to be flying with the radar, and one was used in weapon release trials at the Russian air force's tactics development centre at Akhtubinsk in early August.

The Tu-134 also has a belly-mounted pod used for testing laser-designator and electro-optical targeting systems. The pod is not specific to any one system and has been used for testing a variety of equipment, says Leninets.

Additional reporting Howard Gethin / Moscow

Source: Flight International