Sukhoi SU-22M4 By Note: This aircraft is currently in storage. This powerful Russian-designed ground attack aircraft was a versatile weapon in the Soviet Union's air forces for many years, and it was one of the Soviets' first variable geometry or "swing-wing" attack aircraft. Variable geometry wings allow aircraft to adjust speed, lift and maneuverability characteristics in flight and to operate from short airfields. The swing-wing aircraft series designated "Fitter" by NATO began with the Su-7 Fitter-A fighter-bomber, a fixed-wing fighter that entered Soviet service in 1959. In the late 1960s, when Western and Soviet aircraft designers began developing swing-wing aircraft, Sukhoi installed variable wings and a more powerful engine in the Fitter. This alteration greatly improved the airplane's performance, and NATO designated it the Fitter-B. Several updated versions followed, with improved engines, radars, weapons, and airframes. Western analysts first identified Fitter-Ks, like the one on display, in 1984. Produced until 1991, Fitters could carry a large variety of weapons and stores, and were exported to nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Poland and several others. This Fitter-K came to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in 2003. It was acquired from the Federal Republic of Germany. TECHNICAL NOTES: Crew: One Armament: 9,370 lbs. of various nuclear weapons, bombs, rockets, missiles and gun pods on eight external pylons Engine: Lyul'ka AL-21F-3 turbojet of 24,700 lbs. thrust with afterburner Maximum speed: 1,550 mph (Mach 2.09) Wing sweep: Variable in three fixed positions: 28 degrees for low speed and 62 degrees for high speed, plus one intermediate position Click here to return to the Featured Accessions index.