orders for 242 Su-30 fighters, for about
$29 million each. The last of these orders won't be delivered until 2014. While
China and India remain the major customers for this aircraft, large orders were
recently obtained from Malaysia and Algeria.
The 33 ton Su30 is similar
to the U.S. F-15, but costs over a third less. Developed near the end of the
Cold War, the aircraft is one of the best fighters Russia has ever produced.
The government helped keep development efforts alive during the 1990s, and even
supplied money for development of an improved version of the original Su-27,
which was called the Su-30. This proved to be an outstanding aircraft, and is
the main now in production. There are now several Su-30 variants, and major
upgrades. While only about 700 Su-27s were produced (mostly between 1984, when
it entered service, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991), Su-30
production is fast approaching 1,000 aircraft (including license built ones in
China and India), and will probably get to 2,000, if aircraft made under
license in China and India are included.
The Su-30 has not yet been
used in combat, and the reputation of Russian aircraft in action is not very
good. But the Su-27/30 is designed more like the Western aircraft that have
been defeating Russian designs for the last sixty years. In training exercises,
the Su-30 has done well, and the aircraft is built to take heavy use during
many training flights. In the past, lack of flight time for training was the
biggest problem with Russian warplanes.