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 tactical 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: 16ΒΊ (take-off and landing), 35ΒΊ (cruise), 45ΒΊ (high speed manoeuvring), 60ΒΊ (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-defence.
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 defence.
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, 24 Iraqi Su-24MKs fled to Iran. These have since been integrated in the IRIAF Su-24 fleet. In 2002 all Iranian Su-24s were modified with in-flight 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.
T-6 VTOL prototype
T-6 second prototype
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 inherited by the Ukraine