Procurement: Vietnam Buys More Su-30s


May 18, 2009: Vietnam has bought another twelve Su-30MK2 jet fighters, for $42 million each. The MK2 version of the aircraft has electronics that enable the use of anti-ship missiles. The first of these aircraft will be delivered by the end of the year. Vietnam already has twelve Su-30s, and 36 of the similar Su-27 fighters. Most of Vietnams 400 warplanes are 1960s era MiG-21 fighters and Su-22 ground attack aircraft. Thus there is much need for upgrading.

The 33 ton Su-30 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.


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