The Sukhoi Su-17, NATO reporting name is Fitter, was the first variable-sweep wing aircraft to enter Soviet service.

Designed to be a single-seat fighter-bomber, the Su-17 measures 19.02 m (62 ft 5 in) long, a wingspan of 13.68 m (44 ft 11 in) when spread, and 10.m (33 ft) when swept. It has a height of 5.12 m (16 ft 10 in), an empty weight of 12.16 tonnes, and a maximum takeoff weight of 19.43 tonnes.

The Su-17 was based on its predecessor, the Su-7B fighter-bomber, with upgrades to a higher bomb payload and short takeoff and landing capabilities. The variable-wing was considered the better solution after some testing, something gaining attention at that time. Wing sweep positions were set at 28-, 45- and 62-degrees respectively. Wings were low-mounted with slight anhedral along the cylindrical fuselage and fitted with a pair of large boundary layer fences running longitudinally from leading edge to trailing edge.

Sukhoi Su-17
Sukhoi Su-17

Other designs of the Su-17 take the look of classic Soviet aircraft generations: the nose-mounted air intakes, covered with an integrated shock cone. The pilot sits in a glass cockpit, conveniently placed forward, giving him a good view of all sides except the rear. The empennage is a single vertical tail fin with two horizontal planes. The undercarriage is fully retractable, consisting of two single-wheel main landing gear legs and a single-wheel nose landing gear leg.

The Su-17 is powered by a Lyulka AL-21F-3 afterburning turbojet engine, with 76.4 kN dry thrust, and 109.8 kN with afterburner. The fighter-bomber can reach a top speed of 1,860 km/h at altitude, and 1,400 km/h at sea level. Its combat range is 1,150 km, service ceiling is 14,200m, and rate of climb is 230 m/s.

The standard weaponry of the Su-17 includes two 30 mm NR-30 autocannons, with 80 rounds per gun. Fitter was designed with a total of twelve hard points, compatible with a wide variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. In the air-to-ground role, the Fitter can carry AS-7, AS-10, AS-11, AS-12 and the AS-14 air-to-surface missiles, as well as conventional drop bombs, laser-guided/electro-optical bombs, napalm, drag chute bombs, cluster bombs, gun pods, and rocket pods. The Fitter can also carry the AA-2, AA-8 and AA-11 air-to-air missiles. Its total weapon payload is about 4 tons.

The Su-17 has had a long career and has been operated by many air forces. By the time the Soviet Union disintegrated, more than 2,800 Su-17, Su-22 and Su-20 had been produced. In which more than 1,000 Su-22 were delivered by the Soviet Union to many countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa as well as America. Some of these air forces still use Su-22 Fitters in their service.


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