Russia to start upgrading its Su-30SM in 2018

A Russian Air Force Su-30SM

The Su-30SM will go into a modernization phase in 2018, and is expected to be fully modernized in 2019. During a visit to the Irkutsk Aviation Plant, Russian Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said the Su-30SM performed “in the best possible way in Syria and proved all their capabilities.”

The modernization will mostly focus on adapting the aircraft to host a new variety of air weapons such as the KAB-250 guided bomb and the air-to-surface X-59MK2 cruise missile.

The KAB-250 is a 500 lb bomb that can be both laser-guided and satellite-guided through GPS/GLONASS making it capable of hitting a target within a three-meter radius. It is Russia’s response to the American Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) fitted on the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

KAB-250 guided bombKAB-250 guided bomb

As for the X-59MK2 cruise missile, it has a 683 lb warhead capable of hitting a target at more than 290 kilometre (157 nautical miles), and has a circular error probable (CEP) of three meters. One of its main use is to destroy stationary targets with no radar or infrared signature. It can be stealth-launched making it a weapon of choice for the next generation aircraft such as the Sukhoi T-50 (PAK FA).

As for the avionic upgrades, no details on the exact nature of the upgrades were given. However, Izvestia confirms the aircraft will see some avionic upgrades.

There are more than 100 Su-30SM in Russia’s inventory, according to Borisov. A multirole aircraft, the Su-30SM can be used for air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.