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Sukhoi Su-24 / Fencer


In 1965, the Soviet government instructed the Sukhoi design bureau to begin design studies of a new variable-geometry strike aircraft in the same class as the General Dynamics F- 111. One criteria was that the new aircraft must be able to fly at very low level in order to penetrate increasingly effective air defence systems. Conceived as a replacement for the Su-17/20/22 Fitter series fighter-bomber, the Su-24 Fencer was the first Soviet aircraft to incorporate an integrated combat avionics system combining a computer bombsight, weapons control system and anavigation/terrain avoidance system. In order to survive on the modern SAM infested battlefield, bombers would need to be capable of high speed (Mach 1 plus) low level penetrations in all weather conditions, depending on terrain masking, electronic jamming and precision weapons delivery to accomplish their mission. Lastly, in order to meet Soviet multi mission capabilities, the new aircraft would have to be adaptable to tactical reconnaissance and air interceptor missions.

An early test aircraft incorporating a delta wing VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) design with separate lift and cruising engines was abandoned because of poor low level handling characteristics. Successes with the variable geometry wings of the MiG-23 Flogger interceptor and Su-17 Fitter offered another option; variable geometry allowed for acceptable performance at all altitudes and airspeeds. The first successful flight test of the Fencer-A occurred in 1970.

Initial Fencer-A production aircraft were equipped with variable aperture intakes on the engines, which allowed for a high altitude maximum speed above Mach 2, but since the Su-24 wouldn't be spending much of it's life at high altitude, and such speeds were not possible at low altitude, the actuators were later dropped to save weight and reduce maintenance requirements. Deliveries of the first production version, the 'Fencer-A', began in 1974.

Several variants were produced, culminating in the Su-24M 'Fencer-D', which entered service in 1986. This variant has in-flight refuelling equipment, upgraded nav/attack systems, and laser/TV designators. The Su-24MR is a tactical reconnaissance version. The Su-24 is known to NATO by the reporting name 'Fencer'.


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: 16 degrees (take-off and landing), 35 degrees (cruise), 45 degrees (high speed manouvering), 60 degrees (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 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.

The Fencer entered service in 1974. Four versions have been identified, the latest in 1983. Fencer B differs from Fencer A in having a brake parachute bullet fairing at the base of the fin. Fencer C, introduced in 1981, has this feature as well as radar homing and warning receiver antennas on the fin and intakes. Fencer D has detail differences, including an under-fuselage reconnaissance sensor and in-flight refuelling capability.

There are some 835 Su-24 Fencer variable-geometry interdictor/strike aircraft in Soviet service in 1987, and production continued until 1992. The aircraft equipping Soviet strategic, tactical, and naval air forces.

Operators: Russia, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine.




Su-24 (Fencer-A)
Engine: 2 x turbojet. Installed thrust (dry / reheat): 150 / 215 kN
Span: 17.5 m / 10.5 m
Length: 21.3 m
Wing area: 42 sq.m
Empty wt: 19,000 kg
MTOW: 41,000 kg
Warload: 11,000 kg
Max speed: 1.2 Mach
Ceiling: 17,500 m
Combat radius: 950 km

Su-24 (Fencer-C)
Engine: 2 x turbojet. Installed thrust (dry / reheat): 150 / 215 kN
Span: 17.5 m / 10.5 m
Length: 21.3 m
Wing area: 42 sq.m
Empty wt: 19,000 kg
MTOW: 41,000 kg
Warload: 11,000 kg
Max speed: 1.2 Mach
Ceiling: 17,500 m
Combat radius: 950 km

Su-24M (Fencer-D)
Powerplant: two 109.8 kN (24,690 lb st) Saturn/Lyulka AL-21F-3A afterburning turbofans
Length 24.59m (80 ft 8.25 in)
Height 6.19m (20 ft 3.75 in)
Wing span fully swept 10.36m (34 ft 0 in)
Wingspan fully spread 17.64m (57 ft 10.5 in)
Wing area: 51.0-55.2 sq.m / 548.96594.17 sq ft
Take-off ('clean') 19.000 kg (41,885 lb)
Max Take-Off Weight 39,700 kg (87,520 lb)
Max level speed at 11,000m (36,090 ft) Mach 2.2 / 2.320 km/h / 1,441 mph
Ceiling 17,500m (57,415 ft)
Range w/max.fuel: 2500 km / 1553 miles
Range w/max.payload: 560 km / 348 miles
Armament: one 23 mm GSh-6-23 six barrel gun or one 30 mm GSh-6N-30 six barrel cannon in later versions
Bombload: 8000 kg (17,637 lb)
Hardpoints: 8
Crew: 2

Su-24M2 (Fencer-D)

Su-24MR (Fencer-E)

Su-24MP (Fencer-F)

Su-24MK (Fencer-D)

Sukhoi Su-24




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