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Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer
Role: tactical bomber, tactical reconnaissance, electronic warfare
Variants: Su-24 (Fencer-A), Su-24M/Su-24M2 (Fencer-D), Su-24MR (Fencer-E), Su-24MP (Fencer-F), Su-24MK (Fencer-D)
Operators: Russia, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine.
The Sukhoi Su-24 'Fencer' is a Russian frontline bomber. It is capable of delivering nuclear
and conventional weapons in all-weather conditions day and night. The two powerful
AL-21F turbojets combined with the variable-geometry wing and a terrain avoidance system or TFR enables
the Su-24 to fly low-level at supersonic speeds. The variable-geometry wing has the following
settings: 16º (take-off and landing), 35º (cruise), 45º (high speed manouvering), 60º (supersonic flight).
Its crew consists of a pilot and a navigator/weapons station officer which are seated side by side
in the cockpit cabin (pilot port-side). Apart from the nav/attack system radar and the TFR the nose also
contains a second radar scanner for ranging airborne targets.
Early production variants of the Su-24 were limited to a weapon load of 7000 kg ( lb) with six
hardpoints. But design changes during production soon introduced two additional under-wing pylons
and another one on the centre-line under the fuselage. Now with a total of nine hardpoints the
Su-24 is able to carry up to 8000 kg (17,637 lb). Two R-60 AAMs can be carried for self-defense.
The most important bomber variant of the Su-24 was the Su-24M. Also known as Fencer-D by NATO
designation, this upgraded Su-24 is equipped with more advanced systems. It features
an advanced nav/attack targeting system which combined with the Kaira-24 laser ranger/designator
enables the use of laser-guided and TV-guided weapons. Navigation and radio communication systems were
also upgraded. The addition of an in-flight refuelling system greatly improved the aircraft's
range and flexibility.
The Su-24MR is a dedicated tactical reconnaissance version of the Su-24M. All weapon systems
were removed to make space for the recce equipment. The Su-24MR is equipped with a complex
system of sensors and cameras. It has radar-tracking equipment, infra red and television cameras,
panoramic and perspective photo cameras, but also laser and radiation detection systems. The
systems can be operated manually or automatically.
The Su-24MP is another variant based on the Su-24M upgrade. The Su-24MP is a electronic warfare
(EW) platform. The jamming equipment is situated in a container on the centre-line below the fuselage.
Just like the Su-24MR it has lost its Air-to-Ground capability, but can be equipped with 2
or 4 R-60 IR-guided missiles for self defense.
Su-24MK is the export variant of the Su-24M which was developed for
friendly Arabian nations. There are almost no differences between the Su-24MK and the original
Su-24M. Reportedly 20 aircraft were exported to Syria, 15 to
Libya, and 24 (some say 25) to Iraq. During 1990 Russia delivered 12 Su-24MK Fencers to the
the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF). The IRIAF has modified these
aircraft to use Western weapons, such as the C-802 Noor anti-ship cruise missile. After
Operation Desert Storm began, Saddam sent 24 Iraqi Su-24MKs to Iran. These have since been integrated
in the IRIAF Su-24 fleet. In 2002 all Iranian Su-24s were modified with
inflight refuelling probes to receive fuel from the IRIAF KC-707 tankers.
Su-24M2 is an upgrade of the baseline Su-24M model by Russia's Gefest company. The Su-24M2
is equipped with a new advanced SVP-24 computer plus the latest software, which improves
navigational accuracy and non-guided weapon delivery precision. The 4th Combat and
Conversion Training Centre (CCTC) based at Lipetsk has been running the operational
evaluation program for the new upgrade since a few years. At least five Russian Air Force
aircraft have been upgraded to Su-24M2 standard and reportedly also seven Su-24MK aircraft
delivered to Algeria have been upgraded.
Early Su-24 with six hardpoints
Su-24M Fencer-D in flight
Su-24MR recce variant
Su-24MP EW variant with jamming pod
Su-24MKs exported to Iran
Su-24M now owned by the Ukraine