Vietnam has bought another twelve Russian Su-30MK2 jet fighters, for over $46 million each. This will make 36 of this type of aircraft Vietnam has bought in the last eight years. The MK2 version of the Su-30 has electronics that enable the use of anti-ship missiles. This latest order will take until 2015 to be delivered. Vietnam also has ten 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 less than half as much. Developed near the end of the Cold War, the Su-27/30 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 one now in production. There are now several Su-30 variants and some 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 continue production.
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.