The Russian Air Force will deploy more Sukhoi Su-30SM to its squadron in Crimea, according to the Black Sea Fleet Commander, Admiral Alexander Vitko.
“The Su-30SM fighter jets are doing more than just adding luster to our military parades in Sevastopol, they are actively being used during exercises,” Admiral Vitko told RIA Novosti news agency.
In 2015, according to Admiral Vikto, the squadron based in Crimea flown more than 5,000 hours, the best performance in a decade.
“Our pilots have flown over 200 antisubmarine missions, launched hundreds of unguided missiles and performed numerous bombing missions. Our helicopters have flown over a hundred sorties taking off from and landing on ships,” he added.
According to airforce-technology.com, “the multi-role Su-30SM can be deployed in counter-air strikes, counter-land and counter-sea missions. It can conduct electronic counter-countermeasures and early warning tasks. The aircraft also acts as a command-and-control platform within a fleet of combat aircraft performing joint missions.”
Considered a 4+ generation fighter, the Su-30SM is an upgraded version of the Su-30, a fighter aircraft introduced in 1996. Equipped with a better radar, radio communication systems and friend-or-foe identification system, the Su-30SM’s multirole capabilities makes it a perfect aircraft to conduct operations in Crimea.
With a payload weighing up to 8 tonnes, it can be armed with P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles. Due to Crimea’s geographic position in the Black Sea, the Su-30SM can fly mission in conjunction with the Black Sea Fleet. Equipped with the Oniks, it can launch the supersonic cruise missiles at a distance between 120 to 300km depending on the altitude.
The Su-30SM is also equipped with a GSh-30-1 30mm autocannon with 150 rounds and has 12 hardpoints for external payload. It can also carry one or two mission pods.
It has a maximum range of 3,000 km and a service ceiling of 56,800 feet. As for its speed, the Su-30SM can reach Mach 2.0 (2,120 km/h).
The addition of new Su-30SM to the squadron based in Crimea is likely a sign of Russia’s willingness to reaffirm Crimea’s reunification. With international forces now training Ukrainian troops and the presence of NATO warships in the Black Sea Fleet, the Russian Su-30SM enables Russia to reinforce it’s sovereignty in the region.
The Russian Air Force should receive 60 Su-30SM starting in 2016, a contract signed in 2012.