Sukhoi Su-17/20/22 Fitter
The Sukhoi Su-7 was an effective first generation jet powered ground attack aircraft, but as with many early jet aircraft was soon outclassed as engine and airframe technology improved at a rapid rate. To improve the payload, range and STOL capability of the Su-7, Sukhoi decided to develop a variable geometry version of the aircraft and the result was the S-22I (Su-71G FitterB) which first flew on 2 Aug 66.
The production aircraft were designated Su-17M ‘Fitter C’ and were powered by a 17,200lb afterburning Lyulka AL-21F-3 turbojet and included a new nav/attack system. . Export versions of the Su-17 were known as the Su-20 and the aircraft was operated by Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Iraq, North Korea, Syria and Vietnam. A small number of Fitter Cs were built for reconnaissance duties and these aircraft were designated Su-17R / Su-20R.
The improved Su-17M2 and shorter fuselage Su-17M2D were known as Fitter Ds and these aircraft were built from 1974 and introduced a cut down nose to improve pilot visibility, a fixed intake centrebody carrying a laser rangefinder and a Doppler radar in a pod under the nose. The Fitter D was exported as the Su-17 M-2K and these aircraft, powered by a Tumansky R-29BS-300 engine, were operated by Angola, Libya and Peru.
The Su-17M3 had a deepened forward fuselage, tall tailfin, a removable ventral fin and two wing-root cannons. The export version of this variant was known as the Su-22M-3K and these aircraft were operated by Angola, Hungary, Libya, Peru and Yemen. The next development was the Su-17M4 / Su-22M4 Fitter K and these aircraft were exported to Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Afghanistan.
The Su-17M4 / Su-22M4 was equipped with a large KKR multi-sensor reconnaissance pod which was carried on the aircrafts centreline. The pod contains forward looking and oblique cameras, as well as photo flash cartridges for night operations and ELINT equipment. A number of these aircraft are still in operational service with various air forces, but they are gradually being retired.