Skip to comments.Can the Sukhoi Su-30 have the edge over U.S. fighters in aerial combat?
Posted on 06/18/2014 7:22:53 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
Su-30s would beat F-15s every time. But ..
We recently explained how, 10 years ago, Exercise Cope India put the Indian Air Force Su-30 against U.S. Air Force F-15C jets with results that are still open to debate: since the drills took place during F-22 budget reviews, some analysts affirm the Air Force intentionally accepted the challenging ROE (Rules Of Engagement) to gain more Raptors. Others claim this version of the story was invented to try to save face after the Indians achieved an impressive 9:1 kill ratio.
Even if we might never know the truth, its undeniable that, at least on paper, the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker has been one of the best Russian combat planes.
The Su-27 belongs to the same class of the U.S. F-14 and F-15, but unlike the American fighters it can fly at an angle of attack of 30 degrees and can also perform the Pugachev Cobra.
In a Cobra, the plane suddenly raises the nose to the veritical position (or beyond) before dropping it back to the normal flight, maintaining more or less the same altitude through the entire maneuver.
The Su-27 and its Cobra have been the highlight of many air shows from the end of the 1980s to the middle of the 1990s. But, since then, the Flanker maneuverability has been furtherly enhanced.
The improved multirole Su-30MK is a Flanker variant fitted with both canard forewings and thrust-vectoring nozzles which have improved its agility.
But how can this kind of maneuvers be used in combat?
A clear idea comes from an authoritative source: Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine.
In Su-30MK Beats F-15C Every Time published in 2002 on AW&ST, David A. Fulghum and Douglas Barrie reported that the Su-30 used its maneuverability to beat the F-15 in several engagements conducted in a complex of 360-deg. simulation domes at Boeings St. Louis facilities.
According to the article (that is often referenced by Indian media outlets to highlight the presumed Su-30 superiority on the American fighter jets) an anonymous USAF officer explained that in the case of a missed BVR missile (like the AA-12 Adder) shot by the Flanker, the Su-30 could turn into the clutter notch of the F-15′s radar, where the Eagles Doppler was ineffective.
As the AW&ST story explained in detail, this maneuver could be accomplished making a descending, right-angle turn to drop below the approaching F-15 while reducing the Su-30′s relative forward speed close to zero: even if this is a very old air combat tactic, the USAF officer said that the Sukhoi could perform effectively this maneuver thanks to its ability to reduce rapidly its speed and then quickly regain it.
If the Flanker driver performed correctly the maneuver, the Su-30 was invisible to the F-15s radar until the Eagle was inside the AA-11 Archer IR missile range, since the F-15s Doppler radar relied on movements of its targets.
As pointed out by the USAF officer, this tactic works in the simulator every time, however, only few countries have pilots with the required skills to fly those scenarios.
This happened about 10 years ago.
In the meanwhile, American pilots have received their F-22 Raptor stealth planes (facing also some serious problems).
But some unique features, such as the power of its engines and its superb aerodynamics, make the Flanker, in the right hands and in the proper scenario, a great dogfighter and a very tough enemy for every western jet WVR (Within Visual Range).
Moreover the Su-30 could carry the short range IR missile AA-11 Archer which in the 90s was the best short-range AAM in the world since it could be linked to the pilots helmet fire control system and was capable to be fired at targets until 45 degrees off the axis of the aircraft: both these capabilities were not possessed by the AIM-9M, the main western short range missile at the time (later replaced by the AIM-9X Sidewinder).
Image credit: Wiki
Ah... no, not buying. Just like the Ruskie subs are sooo much better than ours, BS.
When was the last ‘dogfight’ between real combatants? Korea?
With long range radar and self guided missiles, a pilot might never even see his enemy.....................
So the “author” of this piece ends it with talking about the F22 and then deftly sidesteps the effect or should I say, lack of effect the missiles would have on a F22.
How quaint...simulators are one thing and can be manipulated any number of ways...let’s put them up against each other in Red Flag, no holds barred...no rules, just fight.
That is where the truth lies...
Command and Control is criticial in air combat. The pilot that sees the enemy first is usually the victor. CC is best used to position the pilots into that envelope.
IMO the most important factor is the pilot's skills and autonomous decision making. In that arena we have had a clear advantage after what we learned in Vietnam.
Frank, you say..........?
So, when do we start adding Trust Vectoring to our F-15’s?
And if an opponent only has one good maneuver in his bag of tricks... how long will it take to develop a counter to that? How long to set up a scene that entices the opponet to make his move, to his ultimate destruction?
The historic gamechanger has been quantity over quality. The Russians have always claimed that "Quantity has a quality of it's own".
A puny number of F-22s against hundreds of inferior planes will still lose. It just takes time.
Put it up against a Block 52 F-16.
We did. In 2008. Here is one F-15C pilot's debrief of how the SU-30MKI fared: YouTube part 1 (10 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2siH9W5P4E
YouTube part 2 (10 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfXBoeV86Yo
Concurring with your observation... are there not other modes available in the weapon system that allows the pilot to acquire the enemy target without being susceptible to the doppler related phenomenon referred to as clutter notch?
If you were a betting man, would you take 10 Su-30s with the Russian/Indian/Chinese electronic support or 4 F-22s with AWACs/JSTARs/F-18 Growlers? My money would be on most of the 10 SU-30s being shot down with no casualties to the F-22s.
I’m thinking a wingman with enough offset would have the opponent cold - not lost in a zero range rate bin.
Let’s hope so. Sounds realistic. Benefit would be to not have to change radar modes... Just take the opponent out.
Yet, there was a plane that had close combat modes as part of the system that did not use doppler mode. Pilot could switch instantly to it from other radar modes as well. Hope that F-15 has it.
I am not a fighter pilot, so I am not qualified to opine.
HST, I’d like to think that USAF, Navy and Marine Corps fighter pilots are the most highly motivated and best trained pilots in the world. AND, our C4I2 - Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, and Interoperability - capabilities are unsurpassed.
Given those factors, I think we win.
HST, the longer Ophonybama is in office, the weaker we will become.
Vietnam. And Gulf War I.
That thing is a strafe-rag at low energy when doing it’s ‘stop in mid-air’ or cobra thing. . .fighter pilots would be more at risk from laughing at that ‘shoot me now’ maneuver than anything else.
Sheesh. . .people that should know better are constantly oo’ing and ah’ing over some silly airshow maneuver. Only thing that maneuver demonstrates is the russian’s finally overcame their high-AOA low-speed tendency to generate compressor stalls under those conditions.
Outstanding de-brief video.
F-15s are falling apart from age and use, do you really think Hussein would spend a dime to upgrade them?
The F4 Phantom in Vietnam had radar and missiles that could take out a plane from beyond visual range. And no guns.
Then they were given rules of engagement which prohibited them from firing unless they had visual confirmation of what they were shooting at.
Never underestimate how badly the rules of engagement that your own government imposes on you can cripple your combat effectiveness. Look at Afghanistan.
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