Douglas Barrie/LONDON

SUKHOI EXPECTS to fly a foreplane-equipped derivative, of its basic two-seat Su-30 in the next few months, according to senior managers at the Irkutsk manufacturing plant, where the prototype is being built.

The canard design was first associated with the Su-27K and Su-27M. Sukhoi also claims that the Su-30MK will be fitted with thrust-vector control and, potentially, a phased-array radar.

Irkutsk officials suggest that the canard Su-30MK will complement the thrust-vectoring Su-27M prototype. This aircraft, number 711, has been dubbed the Su-37, although it is not known whether the Russian air force, has the funding to support a production order. It is also unclear what relationship the Su-37 has to the Su-35, as Sukhoi has previously called the Su-27M.

The canard Su-30MK project may have been at least partially funded by the Indian air force. India and Russia have agreed in principle for New Delhi to receive up to 40 Su-30MKs, in two batches.

Delivery timescales will dictate which model of the Su-30MK India initially receives. It has been suggested that aircraft in the first batch will have a similar configuration to that of the initial Su-30MK, powered by Lyulka/Saturn AL-31F enginess rather than AL-37FUs, as the thrust-vectoring variant of the engine is designated.

The Indian air force has also approached Russian radar-design house NIIP about acquiring the N-011 phased-array radar now in development. The N-011 is intended for derivatives of the Su-27M and also for Mikoyan's moribund fifth-generation fighter. Competing Russian radar designer, Phazotron also continues to offer alternative designs for these aircraft, sparking speculation as to whether the NIIP programme has encountered funding or technical problems.

If Sukhoi is to fit the Su-30MK with foreplanes and thrust vectoring, it will also need to include the digital flight-control system and associated cockpit systems, which are now being test-flown on aircraft 711.

Source: Flight International