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Su-17 Sukhoi
Su-17, Su-20, Su-22
ASCC codename: Fitter
Ground-Attack Fighter

The Su-17 attack plane was a development of the Su-7, a rugged swept-wing attack fighter dating back to 1955. To improve the range and performance of the Su-7, Sukhoi modified the aircraft with pivoting swing-wings to produce the Su-17. Western sources originally believed the Su-17 was nothing more than an experimental aircraft with a crude attempt to test variable geometry wing technology.

However, the modified design proved so successful that the Soviet Union proceeded with a production model known as the Su-17M 'Fitter-C'. This model also featured a new more powerful and fuel efficient engine as well as an improved navigation and attack system. An export version of the Su-17M was known as the Su-20. Fitted with less sophisticated avionics, the Su-20 was delivered to a number of Soviet allies. Among the operators of the Su-20 have been Poland, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Egypt, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Algeria, and Angola.

Additional models entered production during the mid-1970s. First of these was the Su-17M2 'Fitter-D' equipped with improved avionics. Among the enhancements introduced in this model was a laser rangefinder mounted in the conical centerbody of the engine inlet. A two-seat trainer variant based on the Su-17M2 also appeared. Designated the Su-17UM/UM2 'Fitter-E', these models featured a revised cockpit layout that improved pilot visibility and was adopted on all later models. Export variants, including the Su-22 attack fighter and Su-22UM trainer, were sold to several nations such as Angola, Libya, and Peru.

The Su-17M2 series was not in production for long, however, as it was soon replaced by the Su-17M3 'Fitter-H' and Su-17UM3 'Fitter-G' models. These variants introduced a deeper fuselage with room for an internal radar as well as a significant increase in fuel capacity. These models also saw extensive service in foreign nations as the Su-22M single-seat attack fighter and Su-22UM3 two-seat trainer exported to Angola, Hungary, Libya, Peru, and Yemen, among others.

The final production models were the Su-17M4 and Su-22M4 'Fitter-K' optimized for high performance during low-level strike missions. These models feature much more capable avionics systems than earlier models. The 'Fitter-K' variants are also capable of carrying a wide variety of precision-guided weapons and advanced air-to-air missiles.

Production of the Su-17 family finally ended in 1990 after about 1,200 had been built, including about 500 for export customers. The Su-17, Su-20, and Su-22 remain in service througout the Russian republics, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Several upgrade programs have been offered, but many of the remaining examples will likely be replaced by versions of the Su-25 and Su-27.

Data below for Su-17M 'Fitter-C' and Su-17M4 'Fitter-K'
Last modified 17 March 2012

First Flight 2 August 1966
Service Entry



one: pilot



Wing Root TsAGI-9030
Wing Tip TsAGI SR-3-12

Length (Su-17M) 61.54 ft (18.75 m)
(Su-17M4) 62.42 ft (19.02 m)
Wingspan unswept: 45.25 ft (13.80 m)
swept: 32.83 ft (10.00 m)
Height (Su-17M) 16.42 ft (5.00 m)
(Su-17M4) 16.83 ft (5.13 m)
Wing Area unswept: 430.57 ft² (40.1 m²)
swept: 398.28 ft² (37.0 m²)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty (Su-17M) 22,050 lb (10,000 kg)
(Su-17M4) 23,455 lb (10,640 kg)
Normal Takeoff 36,155 lb (16,400 kg)
Max Takeoff 42,990 lb (19,500 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: 8,310 lb (3,770 kg) occupying 1,200 gal (4,550 L)
external: up to 840 gal (3,200 L) in four 210 gal (800 L) tanks
Max Payload

9,370 lb (4,250 kg)

Powerplant one Lyul'ka AL-21F-3 afterburning turbojet
Thrust 17,195 lb (76.5 kN)
24,800 lb (110.3 kN) with afterburner

Max Level Speed (Su-17M)
at altitude: 1,380 mph (2,220 km/h) at 36,090 ft (11,000 m), Mach 2.09
at sea level: 800 mph (1,285 km/h), Mach 1.05
at altitude: 1,170 mph (1,880 km/h) at 36,090 ft (11,000 m), Mach 1.77
at sea level: 840 mph (1,350 km/h), Mach 1.1
Initial Climb Rate 45,275 ft (13,800 m) / min
Service Ceiling 49,870 ft (15,200 m)
Range typical: 740 nm (1,370 km)
ferry: 1,375 nm (2,550 km)
g-Limits +7

Gun two 30-mm NR-30 cannons (80 rds ea)
Stations eight to ten external hardpoints
Air-to-Air Missile (Su-17M-3 and later) K-13/AA-2 Atoll, R-60/AA-8 Aphid
Air-to-Surface Missile (Su-17M-4) Kh-25ML/AS-10 Karen, Kh-58E/AS-11 Kilter, Kh-25MP/AS-12 Kegler, Kh-29/AS-14 Kedge
Bomb FAB-100/200/500, other free-fall, guided, nuclear, anti-runway, incendiary, and cluster bombs
Other up to four UPK-23-250 or SPPU-22-01 23-mm gun pods, 57-mm to 370-mm rocket pods, ECM pods, reconnaissance pods

Su-7IG 'Fitter-B'
Modified Su-7 with variable-geometry wings, prototype for the Su-17
Su-17 'Fitter-B'
Pre-production model with a longer fuselage; built in small numbers
Su-17M 'Fitter-C'
Definitive ground attack production model with an improved engine, increased fuel capacity, and improved avionics; later airframes included aerodynamic refinements
Su-17R 'Fitter-C' Tactical reconnaissance models based on the Su-17M
Su-20 'Fitter-C'
Export version of the Su-17M with downgraded avionics, delivered to Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Iraq, Poland, North Korea, Syria, and Vietnam
Su-20R 'Fitter-C' Tactical reconnaissance model based on the Su-20
Su-17M2 'Fitter-D'
Attack model with a longer nose housing a new nav/attack system and laser rangefinder
Su-22 'Fitter-F'
Export model of the Su-17M2 with less capable avionics, sold to Angola, Libya, and Peru
Su-22R 'Fitter-F' Tactical reconnaissance model based on the Su-22
Su-17UM 'Fitter-E'
Two-seat trainer based on the Su-17M with a drooped nose, revised cockpit canopy for improved visibility, and only one cannon, some fitted with undernose sensor equipment of the Su-17M
Su-17UM2 'Fitter-E'
Improved Su-17UM with a taller tailfin
Su-22U/UM 'Fitter-E'
Export model of the Su-17UM/UM2 sold to Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Iraq, Libya, Peru, Vietnam, and Yemen
Su-17UM3 'Fitter-G'
Improved two-seat trainer lacking full combat capability but including a deep dorsal spine, increased fuel capacity, and taller tailfin
Su-22UM3/UM3K 'Fitter-G'
Export versions of the Su-17UM3 trainer delivered to Afghanistan, Angola, Czechosolvakia, East Germany, Hungary, Libya, Peru, Poland, Syria, and Yemen
Su-17M3 'Fitter-H'
Improved attack fighter similar to the Su-17UM with a deeper fuselage for an internal radar and increased fuel capacity, able to carry K-13/AA-2 or R-60/AA-8 infrared-homing air-to-air missiles
Su-22M 'Fitter-J'
Export version of the Su-17M3 attack fighter with downgraded avionics delivered to Angola, Hungary, Libya, Peru, and Yemen
Su-22M3 'Fitter-J'
Export version of the Su-17M-3 attack fighter with a complete avionics and weapons fit; few built
Su-17M4 'Fitter-K'
Upgraded attack fighter optimized for high-speed at low altitude and equipped with advanced avionics including a new mission computer and navigation system, new radar, improved laser rangefinder, new gunsight, and a radar warning receiver; operated by Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Turkmenistan
Su-22M4 'Fitter-K'
Final production model, upgraded expert version of the Su-17M4 delivered to Afghanistan, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, and Vietnam
Su-17M3R, Su-17M4R,
Su-22M3R, Su-22M4R
Reconnaissance models equipped with the KKR-1 reconnaissance pod on the fuselage centerline station, pod carries photo-cameras, a flare dispenser, and electronic intellifence gear
Su-22M5 (S-56) Originally called Su-17M4N (S-54N), was a proposal for a new model without wings replaced by a fixed 45° swept wing, substitution of the engine used on the Su-27, and updated weapons carriage capability
1994 Upgrade Proposal to upgrade older models with a new nav/attack system, HUD, laser target designator, mission compouter, GPS receiver, inertial navigation system, and cockpit displays; a second stage would include addition of long range air-to-air missiles and an upgraded radar and FLIR system compatible with precision-guided air-to-surface weapons
1997 Upgrade Series of four separate upgrade packages including (1) GPS receiver and flight data sensors; (2) radar warning receiver and jamming gear; (3) new cockpit displays and helmet-mounted sight; and (4) new radar compatible with the Kh-31A anti-ship missile

KNOWN COMBAT RECORD: Libyan-Egyptian War (Egypt, 1977)
Afghanistan War (Soviet Union, 1979-1989)
Iran-Iraq War (Iran, Iraq, 1980-1988)
Gulf of Sidra - shot down by US F-14s (Libya, 1981)
Lebanon (Syria, 1982)
Chadian-Libyan War (Libya, 1986)
Iraq - Operation Desert Storm (Iraq, 1991)
Nagorno-Karabakh War (Armenia, Azerbaijan, 1992-1994)
attacked US C-130 (Peru, 1992)
Cenepa War (Peru, 1995)
Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan, 2001)
Yemen Sa'dah insurgency (Yemen, 2009-2010)
Libya Civil War (Libya, 2011)

KNOWN OPERATORS: Afghanistan (Afghan Air Force) - Su-20, Su-22
Algeria, Al Quwwat al Jawwawiya al Jaza'eriya (Algerian Air Force) - Su-22
Angola, Força Aérea Popular de Angola (Angolan People's Air Force) - Su-20, Su-22
Armenia (Armenian Air Force) - Su-17, Su-22
Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan Air Force) - Su-17
Belarus, Voyenno Vozdushnyye Sily (Belarus Air Force) - Su-17
Bulgaria, Bulgarski Voenno Vozdushni Sili (Bulgarian Air Defense Force Military Aviation) - Su-22
Czechoslovakia, Ceskoslovenske Letectvo (Czechoslovak Air Force) - Su-22
Czech Republic, Cesk Letectvo a Protivzbusna Obrana (Czech Air Force and Air Defense) - Su-22
East Germany, Luftstreitkräfte/Luftverteidigung (Air Force/Air Defense Force) - Su-22
Egypt, Al Quwwat al Jawwiya il Misriya (Egyptian Air Force) - Su-20, Su-22
Germany, Deutsche Luftwaffe (German Air Force) - Su-22
Hungary, Magyar Honvedseg Repülö Csapatai (Hungarian Air Defense Group) - Su-22
Iran (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) - Su-20, Su-22
Iraq, Al Quwwat Al Jawwiya al Iraqiya (Iraqi Air Force) - Su-20, Su-22
Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan Air Force) - Su-17
Libya, Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Jamahiriya al Arabia al Libyya (Libyan Air Force) - Su-22
North Korea (Korean People's Army Air Force) - Su-20, Su-22
Peru, Fuerza Aérea del Perú (Peruvian Air Force) - Su-20, Su-22
Poland, Polska Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej (Polish Air Defense and Aviation Force) - Su-20, Su-22
Russia, Voyenno Vozdushniye Sili (Russian Air Force) - Su-17
Slovakia, Velitelstvo Vzdusnych Sil (Slovak Air Force) - Su-22
South Yemen (South Yemen Air Force) - Su-22
Syria, Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al Arabiya as-Souriya (Syrian Air Force) - Su-22
Turkmenistan, Voyenno-Vozdushneyye Sily (Turkmenistan Air Force) - Su-17
Ukraine, Voyenno Vozdushnyye Sily (Ukraine Military Air Forces) - Su-17
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Voyenno Vozdushniye Sili (Soviet Air Force) - Su-17
Uzbekistan (Uzbek Air Force) - Su-17
Vietnam, Khong Quan Nhan Dan Viet Nam (Vietnam People's Army Air Force) - Su-22
Yemen (Unified Yemen Air Force) - Su-22
Yugoslavia, Ratno Vazduhoplovstvo i Protiv Vazdusna Odbrana (Serbia and Montenegro Air and Air Defence Force)






  • Bishop, Chris, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Weapons: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Weapon Systems from 1945 to the Present Day. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1999, p. 275.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 866, Sukhoi Su-17, Su-20 and Su-22.
  • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 402-404, Sukhoi Su-17/-20 'Fitter-C', Sukhoi Su-17M-2/-3/-22M3 'Fitter-D/-F/-H/-J', Sukhoi Su-17UM-2 'Fitter-E' and Su-17/-22UM-3 'Fitter-G', Sukhoi Su-17M-4 and Su-22M-4 'Fitter-K'.
  • Gunston, Bill, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1995, p. 263-264, Sukhoi Su-17 'Fitter', Sukhoi Su-20 and Su-22 'Fitter'.
  • Gunston, Bill, ed. The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1995, p. 339-342, Su-7IG, Su-17, Su-17M, Su-17M-2D, Su-22M-2K, Su-17M-3, Su-17M-4.
  • Gunston, Bill and Spick, Mike. Modern Air Combat: The Aircraft, Tactics and Weapons Employed in Aerial Combat Today. NY: Crescent Books, 1983, p. 160-161.
  • Munro, Bob and Chant, Christopher. Jane's Combat Aircraft. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, p. 218-219.
  • Paul Nann's Military Aviation Photo Gallery
  • Taylor, Michael. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1996/1997. London: Brassey's, 1996, p. 84-86, Sukhoi Su-17, Su-20 and Su-22 (NATO name Fitter).
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London: Brassey's, 1999, p. 66, Sukhoi Su-17, Su-20 and Su-22 (NATO name Fitter).

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