Su-24 Fencer – Old, But Still A Deadly Enemy
The Soviet Su-24 design was inspired by the impressive and powerful “swing-wing” design of the US F-111.
In February 1975, the aircraft entered service as the Su-24, equipped with advanced navigation and observation systems. It was equipped with a powerful computer at the time that allowed the SU-24 to fly low-altitude following the terrain fold.
In terms of design, without a doubt, the Soviet design was inspired by the impressive and powerful “swing-wing” design of the US F-111. The fuselage is all metal, has no studs, and therefore very stiff. The Su-24 measures 22.53 m (73 ft 11 in) long, a wingspan of 17.64 m (57 ft 10 in) at spread, and 10.37m when swept. Its empty weight is 22.3 tons, and maximum takeoff weight is 43.75 tons.
What makes the Su-24 so special is its wings, which high-mounted. The preset wing sweep positions were noted as 16, 35, 45 and 69-degrees. The variable geometry wing provides excellent STOL performance, allowing a landing speed of 230 kilometers per hour (140 mph), even lower than the Sukhoi Su-17 despite substantially greater take-off weight. Its high wing loading provides a stable low-level ride and minimal gust response.
The Su-24 is powered by two Lyulka AL-21F-3A turbojet engines, with 75 kN dry thrust each, and 109.8 kN with afterburner. It can reach a top speed of 1,654 km/h at high altitude, and 1,315 km/h at sea level.
The combat range is 615 km, service ceiling is 11,000m, and the rate of climb is 150 m/s. The Su-24 can perform complex aerial acrobatics. The plane confidently flies upright, dive, turns, complex maneuvers in aerial combat. It can effectively engage enemy radars when breaking through air defenses, to destroy ground targets.
Ten fatal accidents occurred during Su-24 development, killing thirteen Sukhoi and Soviet Air Force test pilots. By the late 1980s, the Soviet Air Force received the Su-24M version, equipped with new navigation and observation equipment, along with an aerial refueling system.
Su-24M can carry almost all types of “aviation weapons”, including: air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, bombs. The combat payload is more than 8 tons. From the 2000s, appeared Su-24M2 – the latest modernized version.