Sukhoi Su-24MR Fencer-E / F
The Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer was designed as an all-weather low-level supersonic interdictor, equivalent to the General Dynamics F-111, to replace ageing II-28 and Yak-28 Brewer medium bombers. First flown in late 1971, the Fencer A only served in small numbers with a trials unit. The Fencer B was the first version produced in real numbers and entered service in 1974. Fencer C entered service in 1981 with considerable improvements to the avionics. Fencer C and B aircraft remain in front line service with Russia and a number of former Soviet states. The vastly improved Su-24M Fencer-D entered service in 1986 and this version features terrain following, rather than terrain avoidance, radar. The export version, the Su-24MK, has been delivered to Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
The Su-24MR Fencer-E is a tactical reconnaissance aircraft that can be identified by its dielectic panels in a slightly shortened nose. The basic reconnaissance package is the BKR-1 Bortovoy Kompleks Razvedki (Onboard Reconnaissance Complex) which incorporates the Shtyk (Bayonet) SLAR and a Zima (Winter) imaging infrared reconnaissance system in the nose. In addition, the aircraft frequently carries various combinations of the Aist-M (Stork) TV reconnaissance pack, the AP-402 and A-100 'wet-film cameras, the Ehfir-1M (Ether) radiation monitoring system, the Shpil'-2M (Steeple) laser line-scan unit and the Tangazh (Pitch) ELINT system in external pods. Using an on-board wide-band radio channel the aircraft can transmit data from some sensors in near real time to dedicated ground stations. In addition, the camera pods can also develop film in-flight, which can then be dropped inside a special canister to a ground based command post or mobile Reconnaissance Intelligence Cell (RIC). Around 100 aircraft are currently in service with Russia, how many of the exported Fencers remain serviceable is very debateable, but probably only a handful in each country at any one time.
The Su-24MP Fencer-F was designed as a dedicated ECM aircraft, which can also gather ELINT and SIGINT. The aircraft is very similar in appearance to the Fencer-E but can be distinguished by a prominent undernose fairing and a number of swept-back 'hockey stick' antennas mounted near the intakes. Only around 20 aircraft were built and the majority remain in service.