Sukhoi Su-7
The Sukhoi Su-7 (NATO designation name: Fitter-A) was a swept wing
Swept wing
A swept wing is a wing planform favored for high subsonic jet speeds first investigated by Germany during the Second World War. Since the introduction of the MiG-15 and North American F-86 which demonstrated a decisive superiority over the slower first generation of straight-wing jet fighters...

, supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

 fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 developed by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in 1955. Originally, it was designed as tactical, low-level dogfighter, but was not successful in this role. On the other hand, soon-introduced Su-7B series became the main Soviet fighter-bomber
A fighter-bomber is a fixed-wing aircraft with an intended primary role of light tactical bombing and also incorporating certain performance characteristics of a fighter aircraft. This term, although still used, has less significance since the introduction of rockets and guided missiles into aerial...

 and ground-attack aircraft of the 1960s. The Su-7 was rugged in its simplicity but its shortcomings included short range and low weapon load.

Original Su-7 fighters

On 14 May 1953, after Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's death, the Sukhoi
Sukhoi Company is a major Russian aircraft manufacturer, headquartered in Begovoy District, Northern Administrative Okrug, Moscow, famous for its fighters...

OKB is a transliteration of the Russian acronym for "Опытное конструкторское бюро" - Opytnoe Konstructorskoe Byuro, meaning Experimental Design Bureau...

 was reopened and by the summer, it began work on a swept-wing front-line fighter. The first prototype, designated S-1, was designed to use the new Lyulka AL-7
Lyulka AL-7
|-Specifications :-Bibliography:* Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9-External links:...

 turbojet engine. It was the first Soviet aircraft to utilize the all-moving tailplane and a translating centerbody, a movable cone in the air intake for managing airflow to the engine at supersonic speeds. The aircraft also had a dramatic wing sweep of 60°, irreversible hydraulically boosted controls, and an ejection seat of OKB's own design.

The S-1 first flew on 7 September 1955 with A. G. Kochetkov at the controls. Fitted with an afterburning
The AfterBurner is a lighting solution for the Game Boy Advance system that was created by Triton-Labs.Originally, was a website created to petition Nintendo to put some kind of light in their Game Boy Advance system...

 version of the AL-7 engine after the first 11 flights, the prototype set a Soviet speed record of 2,170 km/h (1,170 kn, 1,350 mph, Mach 2.04
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

) in April 1956. The prototype was intended to be armed with three 37 mm Nudelman N-37
Nudelman N-37
The N-37 was a powerful, 37 mm aircraft cannon used by the Soviet Union. It was designed by V. Ya. Nemenov of A.E. Nudelman's OKB-16 to replace the wartime Nudelman-Suranov NS-37, entering service in 1946...

 cannon and 32 spin-stabilized 57 mm (2.25 in) unguided rockets in a ventral tray. The second prototype, S-2, introduced some aerodynamic refinements. Testing was complicated by the unreliable engine and S-1 was lost in a crash on 23 November 1956, killing its pilot I. N. Sokolov. Only 132 had been produced between 1957–1960, and the aircraft entered service as Su-7 in 1959.

Su-7B fighter-bomber

On 31 July 1958, Soviet tactical aviation (Frontovaya Aviatsiya, фронтовая авиация) tasked Sukhoi with developing a ground-attack variant of the Su-7, which could replace the scrapped Ilyushin Il-10
Ilyushin Il-10
Ilyushin Il-10 was a Soviet ground attack aircraft developed at the end of World War II by the Ilyushin construction bureau...

. The resulting prototype, S-22, incorporated structural refinements for high-speed, low-altitude operations. It first flew in March 1959, and entered service in 1961 as the Su-7B.

Operationally, Su-7s were hampered by a high landing speed of 340–360 km/h, as dictated by the thin, highly-swept wing. Combined with poor visibility from the cockpit, and lack of an instrument landing system
Instrument Landing System
An instrument landing system is a ground-based instrument approach system that provides precision guidance to an aircraft approaching and landing on a runway, using a combination of radio signals and, in many cases, high-intensity lighting arrays to enable a safe landing during instrument...

, it made operations very difficult, especially in poor weather or on poor airfields. In 1961-1962, Sukhoi experimented with blown flap
Blown flap
Blown flaps are a powered aerodynamic high-lift device invented by the British and used on the wings of certain aircraft to improve low-speed lift during takeoff and landing. The process is sometimes called a boundary layer control system . They were a popular design feature in the 1960s, but fell...

s on S-25 but the benefit was too small to warrant implementation. JATO
JATO is an acronym for jet-fuel assisted take off. It is a system for helping overloaded aircraft into the air by providing additional thrust in the form of small rockets....

 rockets tested on S-22-4 proved more useful and were incorporated into Su-7BKL. Attempts to improve takeoff and landing performance eventually resulted in the Sukhoi Su-17
Sukhoi Su-17
The Sukhoi Su-17 is a Soviet attack aircraft developed from the Sukhoi Su-7 fighter-bomber. It enjoyed a long career in Soviet, later Russian, service and was widely exported to communist and Middle Eastern air forces, under names Su-20 and Su-22.-Development:Seeking to improve low-speed and...


Su-7A fighter

The front-line fighter version saw limited operational use in the Far East from 1958, but by 1959, a decision was made to process with production of the MiG-21, and less than 200 units were deployed. The Su-7A was retired in 1965. They never saw combat.

Su-7B fighter-bomber

Su-7B and its variants became the main Soviet ground-attack aircraft of the 1960s. They were also widely exported (691 planes, including also some trainers). However, the very short combat radius and need for long runways limited its operational usefulness. On the other hand, despite its notoriously heavy controls, the Su-7 was popular with pilots for its docile flight characteristics, simple controls and considerable speed even at low altitudes. It also had a reputation for easy maintenance.
From 1977-1986 the Su-7s remaining in Soviet service have been replaced by Su-17
Sukhoi Su-17
The Sukhoi Su-17 is a Soviet attack aircraft developed from the Sukhoi Su-7 fighter-bomber. It enjoyed a long career in Soviet, later Russian, service and was widely exported to communist and Middle Eastern air forces, under names Su-20 and Su-22.-Development:Seeking to improve low-speed and...

 and MiG-27.


The Su-7 saw combat with Egypt in the 1967 Six Day War, the subsequent War of Attrition
War of Attrition
The international community and both countries attempted to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The Jarring Mission of the United Nations was supposed to ensure that the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 242 would be observed, but by late 1970 it was clear that this mission had been...

, and saw use in the Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

 by the Egyptians to attack Israeli ground forces.


The Indian Air Force (IAF) used the Su-7 extensively in the 1971 war with Pakistan
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military conflict between India and Pakistan. Indian, Bangladeshi and international sources consider the beginning of the war to be Operation Chengiz Khan, Pakistan's December 3, 1971 pre-emptive strike on 11 Indian airbases...

. Six squadrons, totaling in 140 aircraft, flew almost 1,500 offensive sorties during the war, and undertook the bulk of the daytime attack efforts. The IAF managed to retain a very high operational tempo with its Su-7s, peaking at a sortie rate of six per pilot per day. Fourteen Su-7s were lost during the war, mostly due to AA fire. After the war was over, it was found that the aircraft had a high survivability, being able fly home safely despite receiving heavy damage. For example, Wing Commander H. S. Mangat's Su-7 was badly damaged by a Sidewinder missile fired from an enemy MiG-19. The impact was so severe that half the rudder was missing, the elevators, ailerons and flaps were severely damaged, and half the missile was stuck in the chute pipe. The pilot made it back to his base, while Pakistan air force reported this incident as a kill.

The death of at least one Indian pilot can be attributed, at least indirectly, to poor cockpit design. A pilot set his seating at a dangerous position "because he found the bomb sight and the front gun sight easier to operate" while in that position, and was killed on ejection.


A total of 1,847 Su-7 and its variants were built.

First production version. The only production version that was a tactical air superiority fighter. Factory designation S-2. Manufactured 1957-1960 with 132 built. Remained in operational service until 1965.

The first ground-attack version, factory designation S-22. Manufactured 1960-1962 with 431 built.

Upgraded AL-7F-1 engine, upgraded fuel system with external piping on either side of the fuselage spine, fuel tanks installed in the wings, "wet" underwing hardpoints for carrying external fuel tanks, capable of carrying tactical nuclear bombs. Manufactured 1963-1965 with 290 built.

Rough-field capable variant with skids affixed to the sides of the main landing gear, provision for two SPRD-110 JATO
JATO is an acronym for jet-fuel assisted take off. It is a system for helping overloaded aircraft into the air by providing additional thrust in the form of small rockets....

 rockets of 29.4 kN (13,300 lbf) thrust, and twin brake parachutes. Introduced in 1965, factory designation S-22KL. Manufactured 1965-1972 with 267 built.

A simplified export version of Su-7BM. Manufactured 1967-1971 with 441 built.

Su-7U (NATO Moujik)
Two-seat trainer version of the Su-7B with reduced fuel capacity. First flight 25 October 1965. Manufactured 1966-1972 in parallel with the export version, designated Su-7UMK.

Su-7UM (NATO Moujik)
Two-seat training version of the Su-7BM.

Su-7UMK (NATO Moujik)
Two-seat training version of the Su-7BMK. All Su-7 trainers amounted to 411 built.

Experimental variable geometry wing aircraft which was developed into Sukhoi Su-17
Sukhoi Su-17
The Sukhoi Su-17 is a Soviet attack aircraft developed from the Sukhoi Su-7 fighter-bomber. It enjoyed a long career in Soviet, later Russian, service and was widely exported to communist and Middle Eastern air forces, under names Su-20 and Su-22.-Development:Seeking to improve low-speed and...


100LDU Control Configured Vehicle
A Su-7U modified with canard
Canard (aeronautics)
In aeronautics, canard is an airframe configuration of fixed-wing aircraft in which the forward surface is smaller than the rearward, the former being known as the "canard", while the latter is the main wing...

s and a longitudinal stability augmentation system. It was designed as a testbed for a fly-by-wire
Fly-by-wire is a system that replaces the conventional manual flight controls of an aircraft with an electronic interface. The movements of flight controls are converted to electronic signals transmitted by wires , and flight control computers determine how to move the actuators at each control...

 system for the Sukhoi T-4
Sukhoi T-4
-See also:-External links:**...

. It was later used in 1973–1974 during the development of the Su-27's fly-by-wire system.

OKB-51 designations

S-1 OKB-51 designation for the first prototype of the Su-7 / Su-9 family.
OKB-51 designation for the first production version of the Su-7.

OKB-51 designation for the Su-7B production aircraft.

OKB-51 designation for the prototype of the Su-7BM.

OKB-51 designation for the Su-7BM production aircraft.

OKB-51 designation for the Su-7BKL production aircraft, incorporating the Short field equipment tested on the S-22-4.

As a pre-cursor to the S-22-4 tests, the S-23 was tested with a pure ski undercarriage and with skis on the main legs only

An S-22 tested with wheel / Ski undercarrriage, brake Parachute and SPRD-110 JATO
JATO is an acronym for jet-fuel assisted take off. It is a system for helping overloaded aircraft into the air by providing additional thrust in the form of small rockets....

 boosters for rough/unpaved field operations.

This aircraft was used for Boundary Layer Control (BLC) tests, with compressor bleed air blown over the leading edges to reduce field length.

A Su-7 fitted with the Boundary Layer Control system, rigged especially for use in a full-scale wind tunnel.

A continuation of the S-22-4 testing with wheel/ski undercarriage, double brake parachute and JATO boosters (The S-26 survives on display at the Russian Air Force Museum, Monino).

A simplified export version of the Su-7BKL, designated Su-7BMK

A belated trainer version with two seats in tandem in an extended nose based on the Su-7BM.

OKB-51 designation for the export version of the Su-7U, designated Su-7UMK by the VVS
VVS is a three letter acronym which may refer to:* Very Very Slightly Included, a way of describing the clarity of a diamond* Vulvar vestibulitis syndrome, a syndrome of vulvodynia associated with chronic disease* V. V. S...

A projected interceptor version of the S-2, with "Izumrud" radar and avionic equipment in a re-configured nose section.

OKB-51 designation for the an experimental version of the S-1/S-2 with a lengthened nose and area-ruled rear fuselage.

A delta-wing tactical fighter project, based on the S-2, cancelled with the prototype nearly complete.

A delta-winged interceptor version of the S-2, developed in parallel to the S-3 and T-1. This would eventually lead to the T-43 prototype of the Su-9 interceptor.


align=center style="background:#BFD7FF"| Military operators of the Su-7
Blue = Current Dark Red = Former

Former operators

  • Afghan Air Force
    Afghan Air Force
    The Afghan Air Force , formerly the Afghan National Army Air Corps and Afghan National Army Air Force , is one of seven "corps" of the military of Afghanistan, responsible for air defense and air warfare. It was officially established in 1924 and for most of its history has functioned as a small...

     - 24 Su-7BMK and 16 Su-7U trainers, were delivered to Afghanistan from 1972. Constant fighting, a high accident rate in the high altitude and poor maintenance caused substantial attrition. An addition 79 used replacements from Soviet stocks were supplied during the 1980s. None remain in service.

  • Algerian Air Force
    Algerian Air Force
    The Algerian Air Force is the aerial arm of the Algerian People's Military.- Inventory :- External links :

     – From 1971–1972, Algeria received 22 Su-7BMK; no longer in service

  • Czech Air Force
    Czech Air Force
    The Czech Air Force is the air force branch of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. The Air Force, with the Land Forces, comprises the Joint Forces, the main combat power of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic...

     – the Czechoslovak Air Force was the first foreign operator of the Su-7 in 1963. Totals included 64 Su-7BM, 31 Su-7BKL and Su-7U. During operations service, 30 aircraft were lost in accidents. The remaining aircraft were phased out in 1990.

  • Egyptian Air Force
    Egyptian Air Force
    The Egyptian Air Force, or EAF , is the aviation branch of the Egyptian Armed Forces. The EAF is headed by an Air Marshal . Currently, the commander of the Egyptian Air Force is Air Marshal Reda Mahmoud Hafez Mohamed...

     – The first batch of 14 Su-7BMK was destroyed during the Six Day War. From 1967-1972, Egypt received an additional 185 Su-7BMK/SU-7UMK. Those which survived the October War with Israel were retired in the mid-1980s.

  • Indian Air Force
    Indian Air Force
    The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict...

     - 140 were delivered in 1968, equipping six squadrons. An additional 14 attrition replacements were provided. The last units were retired in 1986.

  • Iraqi Air Force
    Iraqi Air Force
    The Iraqi Air Force or IQAF is the military branch in Iraq responsible for the policing of international borders, surveillance of national assets and aerial operations...

     – Iraq received 18 Su-7BKL in 1968, with 83 more subsequently delivered. No longer in service

  • North Korean Air Force
    North Korean Air Force
    The Korean People's Army Air Force, , is the name of the unified aviation forces of North Korea. The KPAF is the second-largest branch of the Korean People's Army with an estimated 110,000 personnel. It possesses between 1,600 and 1,700 aircraft of different types, mostly of Soviet and Chinese...

     – received 25 Su-7BMK/-7UMK in the late 1960s, which were retired from 1987-1989.

  • Polish Air Force
    Polish Air Force
    The Polish Air Force is the military Air Force wing of the Polish Armed Forces. Until July 2004 it was officially known as Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej...

     - operated 6 Su-7BM, 33 Su-7BKŁ and 8 Su-7U from July 1964 until June 1990; no longer in service.

  • Soviet Air Force
    Soviet Air Force
    The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

  • Syrian Air Force
    Syrian Air Force
    The Syrian Air Force is the Aviation branch of the Syrian Armed Forces. It was established in 1948.-History:The end of World War II led to a withdrawal of the United Kingdom and France from the Middle East, and this included a withdrawal from Syria...

     - Shortly after the Six Day War, Syria received 25 Su-7s. In the October War Syria lost most of the aircraft supplied. After 1973, The Soviet Union resupplied Syria with 35 more aircraft. By the mid 1980s, the Su-7 had been transferred to the reserves, and by the 1990s were decommissioned.

Specifications (Su-7BKL)

See also

External links

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