A short history of Sukhoi Su-22M4 Bort Number 370 in service of the NVA/LSK

The Sukhoi Su-22 (Russian: Сухой Cy-22 , NATO reporting name ‘Fitter’ ) was developed in the Soviet Union as a further development of the Sukhoi Su-17 fighter-bombers. It is an improved version of the Su-17, which was first flown in 1966 as a production model. The Su-22 was intended as a direct successor to the Su-20 and thus primarily an export aircraft, but was also used in the air forces of the Soviet Union.IMG_4461

The Su-22 was especially designed for low-level high speed flights. It has only limited fighter capabilities like most ground attack aircraft, instead of an air-to-air radar it was equipped with Laserdistance and Targetmarkingsensor ( Klen – 54 ) for ground targets. Other improvements included the locating-, control and target acquisition electronics. In addition, the Su-22 has been equipped with counter measure systems to surpress enemy radar and targeting. Optional installation of an advanced sensor equipment for reconnaissance operations was possible.

IMG_4439The armament included eight to ten weaponpylons for a very wide range of different weapon systems. Depending on it’s role it could be fitted with two or four pylons beneath the center fuselage. It was standard equipped with two automatic cannons type ‘NR-30’, each with 80 rounds of ammunition, incorporated into the left and right wing root. Additional two of the six pylons beneath the wings could be equipped with one additional canon container. The canon container SPPU-22-01 (firing 260 rounds/minute) with a vertical 30° downward movable cannon GSh-23L could be mounted rearwards under the fuselage. This made it possible to strike ground or sea targets while leaving the combat target.

Compared to it’s predecessor Su-17 it has a noticeably altered fuselage contour with a streamlined cockpit, and the characterizing “hump”.  A cooling air inlet mounted on the back of the fuselage (in the Su-22M4), an abdominal plank under the rear  fuselage and four instead of two huge wing fences on top of the wing roots. Peru was the first customer who purchased an aircraft with minor changes compared to the original model in russian service.

Other Su-22 variants were given the NATO codename ‘Fitter G’ (compared to the ‘Fitter F’ for export, but fitted with a different R-29B engine),  ‘Fitter-J’ (generally very similar to the ‘Fitter H’, but with a Tumanski engine, steeper tailfin and Atoll-AAM air-to-air missiles capability) and ‘Fitter K’ (the Su-22 M4 of the Soviet Air Force and similar export models).  It still is one of the most adaptable Soviet constructions, more than 1,000 copies were in service. Countries using the Su-22 are: Egypt, Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, BRD, DDR, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Peru, Poland, Syria, Czechoslovakia and Vietnam. (Source: Wikipedia, Yefim Gordon ” Famous Russian Aircraft: Sukhoi Su-7 and Su – 17/20/22 Fighter Bomber Family”)370_01_Laage 09_Foto_Zetsche   Su 22M4 370 Laage_1

Sukhoi Su-22M4 with the serial number 25713 (the 13th machine of the 25th series) was given the tactical bort number ‘red 370’ and was put in to service on 28 February 1985 with the 1st Squadron of the Fighter Bomber Air Wing 77 (JBG 77).
Based at Laage/Kronskamp Air Base south of the city of  Rostock was established on 1 November 1984. JBG 77 had the task of fighting ground targets and to conduct aerial reconnaissance missions. The Wing operated in Regimental strength and was one of two flying units of the NVA/LSK (Nationale Volksarmee/Luftstreitkräfte) in support of the so-called military districts of land forces , which would acted as complete armies in times of war.

JBG-77-WimpelSince February 1987, the wing was given the traditional name “Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher”. The JBG 77 consisted of two flying squadrons that operated with a total of 24 Su-22M4 and four two-seat Su-22UM3. The airfield Laage had a direct alarm exit to the Berlin-Rostock Autobahn. In addition to the JBG 77, also the Naval Air Wing 28 ( MFG 28 ) was based at Laage also equipped with Su-22M4. The Warsawpact Doctrine would in war times base several russian squadrons at Laage to reinforce, the two air armies of the Soviet armed forces.

771The Fighter Bomber Wing 77 was tasked with flying reconnaissance missions along the German- German border. In times of war all NVA/LSK fighter bombers units, like the JBG 77 or JBG 37, would habe been adopted by Soviet structures and put under Soviet command. The unit would  have operated under Soviet lead and given the code name “Gromada”. On tactical reconnaissance missions on the western border of the GDR, the Su-22 operated with reconnaissance pods of the  type KKR1T and the SRS-13 for electronic reconnaissance. The latter was intended specifically to border reconnaissance and interception of radio messages and radio signals.

IMG_4641The last day of operations in Laage was conducted on 27 September 1990, no further missions were flown thereafter. Due to a ban off all flights by ex GDR aircraft only ground tests and taxiing was allowed after this date. On 3 October 1990, it came to the reunification of the two German states. The JBG 77 was implemented into the West german Luftwaffe, aircraft ‘red 370’ was given a new identity and became 25+06. It operated until 13 December 1990, but only a handful of flights with Su-22 took place. However, the unit was disbanded on  31 December 1990.

370_Tobit_1Our Su-22M4 ‘red 370’ served only 5 years in active service. It was disposed by the VEBEG and stored between March 1994 and October 2006, in Hermeskeil on nehalf of the software company Tobit, later it was exhibited in a specially built hangar at the companies home base in Ahaus as part of their ” Virtual Aero “.

In Winter 2015 on 5 January 2015 the aircraft was sold to the Flugplatzmuseum Gütersloh and transported by Stefan Wemhoff from Ahaus to Gütersloh. It was reassembled with the kind support by Matt Fullick, Hagen Franke, Peterburs Autokrane and the THW Organisation in Gütersloh.

Since January 2015 it is part of Flugplatzmuseums Gütersloh.

Marcus Herbote, Marc Tecklenborg im November 2015