Su-24/Mig-27 in the 1970s /80s and escort fighters

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14 years 10 months

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As we all know Su-24/Mig-27 were the primary strike assets of VVS from the mid-80s to 1990

They would have been deployed in a variety of roles but given they carried large external tanks and later had inflight refuelling their targets must have well outside the range of most if not all VVS Mig-23/29 fighters.

And the Su-27 did not enter service with VVS in substantial numbers until 1988

SO my question is were the Su-24s /Mig-27 from 1976-88 expected to perform most of their missions unescorted ? if so was this not suicidal considering NATO had F-15s in place and hundreds of F-16s not to mention F-4s

What was the primary means of survival for these su-24s and also for the Mig-27 which also in the same time frame had generally similar roles ? it surely cannot be their self defence cannons and 2 x R-60

What kind of attrition rates were they expected to sustain ?

Original post

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13 years 8 months

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Were those two types really the primary strike assets? Mig-23B and other strike variants, including the MiG-27 were produced from 1971 onwards. Su-17 was produced from 1969 onwards, until 1988. Mig-27 was produced, for Russian needs, until 1985 or so. According to take off magazine lists.

There were in total some 1200 Su-24 produced (including those for export)
1644 Mig-23 (strike variants) and MiG-27 produced (including export ones but without the ones for India/built in India)
1705 su-17 produced. That's russian variants as su-20/22 were for export. Another 1150 Su-20/22s were produced for export.

As far as I know, MiG-27 never had IFR in Russian service. Iraqis added IFR on their airframes on their own. Not sure about Indians. IFR on Su-24 was also a fairly late feature, on M variant. Certainly not entering service before 1982/83 and were in minority (of total Su-24 fleet) until late 1980s.

Primary means of survival in my opinion was, as with any air force of the time, mission planning, route planning, the fact enemy fighters can't be in the air 24/7 everywhere and terrain masking. Basically, I don't believe most of their missions were meant to go much beyond the frontline. Flying low meant they wouldn't have been detected (in most situations) until 20-ish km away from the frontline. That's by various tactical AD radars. The big radars would have likely been neutralized in numbers. AWACS wasn't much of a factor. We had instances in 1999, by modernized variants compared to Cold War, where they detected Serbian low flying planes against the clutter just several tens of km away. They couldn't have been much of an asset for detecting low fliers in mid 1980s either. Even if NATO did plan to use them for 24/7 defensive surveillance.

Their defense was primarily not being detected and when detected, getting the hell out before any interceptors managed to arrive to the area. I'm sure SOME missions (bombing NATO airfields in western germany?) did require longer range, but we're still talking about depth of some 300 km (western germany width) plus whatever they had to cross from their bases in Poland and Czech Republic. Fighter MiG-23s, for all their short range, should still have been able to accompany them on such missions as they basically had the same range with their a2a loads as MiG-27s with their a2g loads. Su-24s had some more range, but not much. Perhaps 15%.

I don't believe Soviet doctrine prescribed deep strikes at all. Even NATO didn't really believe they could pull it off. Fighter escort or no fighter escort. The reason NATO planes had greater range and IFRs was so they could operate from bases farther away from the front. From UK, Italy, France, etc.

Member for

14 years 10 months

Posts: 545

Were those two types really the primary strike assets? Mig-23B and other strike variants, including the MiG-27 were produced from 1971 onwards. Su-17 was produced from 1969 onwards, until 1988. Mig-27 was produced, for Russian needs, until 1985 or so. According to take off magazine lists.

There were in total some 1200 Su-24 produced (including those for export)
1644 Mig-23 (strike variants) and MiG-27 produced (including export ones but without the ones for India/built in India)
1705 su-17 produced. That's russian variants as su-20/22 were for export. Another 1150 Su-20/22s were produced for export.

As far as I know, MiG-27 never had IFR in Russian service. Iraqis added IFR on their airframes on their own. Not sure about Indians. IFR on Su-24 was also a fairly late feature, on M variant. Certainly not entering service before 1982/83 and were in minority (of total Su-24 fleet) until late 1980s.

Primary means of survival in my opinion was, as with any air force of the time, mission planning, route planning, the fact enemy fighters can't be in the air 24/7 everywhere and terrain masking. Basically, I don't believe most of their missions were meant to go much beyond the frontline. Flying low meant they wouldn't have been detected (in most situations) until 20-ish km away from the frontline. That's by various tactical AD radars. The big radars would have likely been neutralized in numbers. AWACS wasn't much of a factor. We had instances in 1999, by modernized variants compared to Cold War, where they detected Serbian low flying planes against the clutter just several tens of km away. They couldn't have been much of an asset for detecting low fliers in mid 1980s either. Even if NATO did plan to use them for 24/7 defensive surveillance.

Their defense was primarily not being detected and when detected, getting the hell out before any interceptors managed to arrive to the area. I'm sure SOME missions (bombing NATO airfields in western germany?) did require longer range, but we're still talking about depth of some 300 km (western germany width) plus whatever they had to cross from their bases in Poland and Czech Republic. Fighter MiG-23s, for all their short range, should still have been able to accompany them on such missions as they basically had the same range with their a2a loads as MiG-27s with their a2g loads. Su-24s had some more range, but not much. Perhaps 15%.

I don't believe Soviet doctrine prescribed deep strikes at all. Even NATO didn't really believe they could pull it off. Fighter escort or no fighter escort. The reason NATO planes had greater range and IFRs was so they could operate from bases farther away from the front. From UK, Italy, France, etc.

thanks
did the su-24/mig-27 have any onboard jamming equipment ? and or chaff/flares?

Also would the su-24 be able to beat the performance of an F-4 at low level in clean configration ? as su24 could maintain mach 1.2 i think at low level for prolonged periods

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13 years 8 months

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Yeah, the later variants, from 1980s onwards had both jammers and chaff /flares. Earlier ones just had decoys.

As for F-4, who's to say. If F-4 actually had to fly just as low to engage (which probably would not have been the case) then they both have similar top speed at around mach 1.3 when absolutely clean. Su-24 is probably a bit faster, if it jettisons the payload, vs a f-4 which has to have some missiles to pursue.

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14 years 10 months

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Yeah, the later variants, from 1980s onwards had both jammers and chaff /flares. Earlier ones just had decoys.

As for F-4, who's to say. If F-4 actually had to fly just as low to engage (which probably would not have been the case) then they both have similar top speed at around mach 1.3 when absolutely clean. Su-24 is probably a bit faster, if it jettisons the payload, vs a f-4 which has to have some missiles to pursue.

the AIM-7F carried by most F-4 then would be
1-limited in range at low level vs at high level
2- would be less effective as F-4 radar not at good as F14/15 radar against ground clutter

so I'm thinking su-24 has a better chance vs teen series fighters

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I don't think MiG-27 or SU-24 were intended to be used outside the protective umbrella of the Tank Army's SAMs. The MiG/SU combat radius allowed them to cover wide swaths of the front from distant bases, to blast gaps in NATO defenses for the Tank Army to exploit.

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I don't think MiG-27 or SU-24 were intended to be used outside the protective umbrella of the Tank Army's SAMs. The MiG/SU combat radius allowed them to cover wide swaths of the front from distant bases, to blast gaps in NATO defenses for the Tank Army to exploit.

You mean su24 was meant to operate under SAM umbrella of static defences ? That means a very short combat radius of 100km

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The SAM umbrella moved with the tank armies as they advanced. Su-24s could be flown from bases beyond the range of NATO fighter bombers and cover the entirety of the front from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. SU-24 is a very flexible weapon system due to its range.

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The SAM umbrella moved with the tank armies as they advanced. Su-24s could be flown from bases beyond the range of NATO fighter bombers and cover the entirety of the front from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. SU-24 is a very flexible weapon system due to its range.

So assuming the front is static , then how deep can su24 penetrate for strikes ? Because going any further than 100km would put them outside the range of SAM and most enemy airbases ( fencers main targets ) may be much farther and deeper

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There is a lot of myth around about the range capability. Going in full dry thrust on the deck with the max weapons-load and ETs will generate a speed of around 500 kt. Doing so for one hour will burn ~13 tons of fuel. That in mind you have to go slower and choose a different flight profile to get more range from your 15 tons of fuel. Going for one hour at low level as an escort just a Su-27 can do.

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Even F-111 never flew a Low-low-low combat profile due to excessive fuel burn. It flew High-low-low-high, where low-low was ingress-egress through dense air defenses. SU-24 would fly a High-low-low-high profile to extend combat radius.

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14 years 10 months

Posts: 545

There is a lot of myth around about the range capability. Going in full dry thrust on the deck with the max weapons-load and ETs will generate a speed of around 500 kt. Doing so for one hour will burn ~13 tons of fuel. That in mind you have to go slower and choose a different flight profile to get more range from your 15 tons of fuel. Going for one hour at low level as an escort just a Su-27 can do.

right , that is why i assume that during almost the 80s the fencers and flogger Js were expected to perform strike missions without escort available
but am surprised that the soviets were prepared to send them w/o escorts

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Going on the deck at around 500 kt is your best defense. Just during the pop-up to identify the target and start your attack run. A CAP overhead may have a small chance to achieve a mission kill alarmed in time to pick you up, when doing it. Forced to use the panic button or not enough time left for a steady course in need for your weapons-computer will bring a mission kill you loose your nerves. From the 70s just single hit and run patterns were preferred. More than 4 aircraft in the target area at the same time creates problems in doing so and gives the CAP some time to fetch a toll at least.