The Su-17 Fitter with its variable sweep wings was developed from the fixed-wing Su-7B. The first public demonstration of it was made in 1969. It was in production for a long time (1970-1990) and many modifications were built. Some of the modifications were Su-17M, Su-17M2, Su-17M3, and the Su-17M4 (low-altitude subsonic bomber), Su-17UM (trainer). It was designed as a fighter-bomber, but it was used mostly as a bomber. The Su-17 remains an effective aircraft with capable avionics and impressive armament.
The wings are mid- to low-mounted (wings are mounted below the center), variable, swept-back, and tapered with blunt tips. There are wide wing roots. There is one turbojet engine in the fuselage and a circular air intake in the nose. There is a large, single exhaust. The fuselage is long and tubular with a blunt nose and rear section. It has a large bubble canopy. There is a prominent dorsal spine on top of the body from the cockpit to the tail fin. The tail is swept-back and has a tapered fin with a square tip. The flats are mid- to low-mounted on the fuselage and swept-back and tapered.
The last of the 'Fitter' series, the backbone of Russian ground attack squadrons since the 1960's, the 'Fitter-K' is designed to operate from forward airfields. Known as the Strizh (Marlet), it has a short range compared to most ground attack aircraft. It can carry four rocket pods - each 32x57 mm folding fin rockets - or four air-to-air missiles, or bombs. Or it may carry a wide range of guided weapons from the AS-7 'Kerry' command-guided missile to the AS-9 'Kyle' anti-radar missile. Due to problems in Afghanistan with shoulder fired heat-seeking missiles, the 'Fitter-Ks' have chaff and flare dispensers.
Export versions of this aircraft are designated Su-20 and Su-22. The export versions can be distinguished by a deeper dorsal spine.
Su-22 is a development of the preceding Su-7 and Su-17 and its Su-20 version, which first entered operational service in 1966. Variable geometry wings permit higher manoeuvrability and operational range with heavier combat load. Su-22 has been optimised for high-speed flight at low level. Su-22M4 (Fitter-K) is a single-engined, single-seat supersonic fighter/bomber with variable geometry wings designed to destroy ground targets by guided and non-guided weaponry and for air reconnaissance. Within a limited extent, the aircraft can also be used to destroy air targets. Within the Su-22 series of aircraft it is the most accomplished and best equipped version for combat activities at reduced visibility and by night. It is equipped with a K-36D ejection seat (also used in MiG-29 and Su-27). Su-22M3K is designed for advanced training.
The aircraft is powered by the AL-21F-3 turbo-jet engine made by NPO Saturn (Lyulka) (76.49 kN, or 110.32 kN with afterburning). New avionics includes the CVM20-22 central control computer, PrNK-54 navigation system, a combination of RSDN (an equivalent of Loran) and A-312 (an equivalent of Tacan) devices which substantially increases the accuracy of navigation and bombing and decreases the necessity of manual operations by the pilot. It is also equipped with a DISS-7 Doppler navigation system, KLEN-45 laser range-finder, ASP-178C gun sight, IKV-8 inertial navigation device, ARK-22 automatic radio compass, SRO-2 transponder of the "identification friend-or-foe" system, SO-69 active transponder and SPO-15LE SIRENA radar warning receiver. The Su-22 can be used for tactical air reconnaissance. For this purpose it carries a KKR reconnaissance pod with built-in optical cameras and electronic reconnaissance equipment. The pod is usually used together with SPS electronic reconnaissance equipment. Moreover, a BA-58 VJUGA electronic reconnaissance pod can also be mounted under the fuselage. The pilot has a TV display to control guidance of air-to-surface missiles with a TV guidance system. To protect the aircraft against electronic warfare measures, four sets of ASO passive jammer with 32 cartridge cases each and 2 sets with 6 cases using KDS-23 infrared decoys.
With regard to its priority bombing tasks, the Su-22 can carry a wide range of conventional bombs from 100 to 1000 kg, special bombs with a drag parachute, anti-concrete bombs to destroy runways, anti-tank cluster bombs, rocket launchers (like S-24) with rockets from 57 to 330 mm. It is equipped with 8 armament pylons. For precision strikes against ground targets from the airspace beyond effective reach of anti-air defence it can use several types of air-to-surface radio-guided or laser-guided missiles, including Ch-25 (AS-10 Karen and AS-12 Kegler), Ch-29 and Ch-58E (AS-11 Kilter) anti-radar missiles. For self defence against enemy aircraft, R-60 (AA-8 Aphid), R-73 (AA-11 Archer) or K-13 (AA-2 Atoll) air-to-air infrared-guided short-range missiles are used. Standard equipment is a SPPU-22-01 machine-gun with 260 rounds. Efficient optional weaponry also includes 30 mm NR-30 cannons with 80 rounds, which can be carried in pods under the wings or under the fuselage.