Sukhoi Su-30 MKI - Purpose of Thrust Vectoring

Hub question: What is the purpose of Thrust Vectoring Nozzle in Sukhoi SU-30 MKI? I read this on some site and interested in more details.

Hi friend. This is a really nice question for me to answer. The answer was too difficult so it took me 3 days to research to come to the whole conclusion. There are various websites on the net which have information related to the same and below is my input after going through the information available. I also contacted various students who are studying aeronautical engineering and pursuing a career in the same and I gathered the details from them also. Below are some of the most common questions about thrust vectoring control system.

Before you read the information below, answer a simple question: What do you think thrust vectoring is used for?

  • For pushing the aircraft up in the air
  • For better maneuverability so that the aircraft is able to perform different types of maneuvers in the air during dog fight
  • To expel out excess heat from the aircraft.
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What is thrust vectoring?

Thurst vectoring is one of the best features in Sukhoi SU-30 MKI. The nozzle works such that we can direct the engine thrust in a desired direction, which enhances the maneuverability of the aircraft, and it is this reason due to which Su-30 MKI is able to perform cobra-type maneuvers required during dogfight. India is the second country after Russia to have an aircraft in service with such great thrust vectoring capability.

USA has TVC in F-22 , X-31 , AV-8B Harrier II

UK has EF 2000

Germany has EF 2000

The maximum tilt angle for the SU-30 is 32 degrees in horizontal and 15 degrees in vertical. Even Eurofighter Typhoon does not have thrust vectoring. There are two types of thrust vectoring systems, 2D and 3D. Read below for more details on them:

A Book on Thurst Vectoring Research and History

What is 2-D and 3-D thrust vectoring and what is the difference between them?

2D means directing the thrust in horizontal and vertical directions whereas 3D means directing the thrust in vertical, horizontal, and angular directions. In 2D, nozzles can be deflected in only one direction (either both vertical or horizontal) and in the case of 3D, there has not been any correct information because a few days back I read an article which stated that 3D can be deflected in different planes and yesterday I read another article and it stated that nozzle of 3D can be deflected in the opposite direction. So there is quite confusion about the working of 3D nozzle.

The most important aspect related to any moving machine or vehicle or airplane, etc. is the propulsion power and the type of propulsion, etc.

Aspects related to propulsion, etc. could be best studied when they are related to an airplane, especially due to the fact that there is ideally zero friction between the airplane and air/unlike the case in cars, bikes, ships, etc.

The concept of three-dimensional vectoring can also be applied to a propeller-based aircraft. The principles and the benefits will be good if not dramatic when compared to the jet, rocket power, etc. The earlier types of jet technology were purely axisymmetric and the thrust was on the lines of the axis of the jet engine.

The two-dimensional thrust vector allows the propulsion to be deflected in two directions, up and down, or sideways, left or right.

Three-dimensional thrust vectoring allows the propulsion to be deflected in all four directions, i.e., up and down and left and right. It is even possible to add roll control using differential ideology. Basically, the propulsion of one jet is directed upwards while the other is directed downwards.

The three dimensional thrust vectors allow the aircraft to perform all types of complex maneuvers. One can very well say that three-dimensional thrust adds four more controls to the aircraft. In the absence of 3-dimensional thrust, the pilot has to depend heavily on the basic controls such as rudder, elevator, flap, airelon, etc. It is quite possible that some complex maneuvers can be carried out without using the basic controls at all. The response time is improved a lot by using such multidimensional thrusts.

Su30 MKI while take off illuminating Thrust vectoring nozzles in Aero India Show in 2011
Su30 MKI while take off illuminating Thrust vectoring nozzles in Aero India Show in 2011 | Source

Now learn how the thrust-vectoring nozzle is controlled?

Presumably, the nozzle sense is controlled by the avionics inside it, right? But it is the pilot who is given a direct feed on the nozzle angle? Because maneuvers like the Pugachev's Cobra super maneuvers are too complex to fathom.

Pugachev's Cobra or dynamic braking is a maneuver in which within 3 to 4 seconds, the nose of the aircraft is pulled up to high angles of attack (80--110 degrees) and then returned to normal horizontal flight. This causes intensive loss of airspeed. You can execute this maneuver from level flight at various altitudes and at indicated air speeds of 350--450 kilometers per hour.

In level flight at the appropriate entry speed of 350 to 450 km/h, disable the AOA limiter. Execute the cobra by pulling the stick fully aft. As the nose reaches the vertical (pointed straight up), allow the stick to go to neutral and let the nose fall back down to level flight. Smoothly increase thrust toward the end of the maneuver. The AOA limiter will automatically re-engage after executing the cobra.

Two facts that make thrust vectoring difficult for other planes

  1. The main difficulty is to design a nozzle bearing that can work smoothly at extremely high engine exhaust temperatures, basically a problem of finding the right material. The Russians are using some alloy for this and some advanced lubricant they invented.
  2. The second is a problem of flight control. Thrust vectoring changes the complete control law for your aircraft. As a simple example, one of the very difficult fields in aerospace is tethered vehicle flight dynamics because it involves an asymmetric thrust vector. Thrust vectoring is having that vector in your control law. This is the reason that Americans are behind the Russians and they want to integrate the TV into the flight computer, so that the pilot can still fly with a single joystick; however, the Russians who are more practical and generally just want results, have a separate control for controlling TV of the nozzle, and the pilot uses his own feel of the aircraft to fly and uses the thrust vectoring appropriately.

India has manufactured AL-31 engines with thrust vectoring nozzles under license at the Nasik Plant (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited).

Which other aircraft are using this facility?

  • Harrier 1 and 2.
  • Yakovlev Yak-141 which is the first supersonic VTOL fighter (Vertical Take-Off and Landing).
  • JSF which is a naval version still has some problems with the vertical take-off and landing thing out there, so the US engineers had to call on the Russian engineers from Yakovlev to help them fix this problem.
  • V-22 Osprey with VTOL and STOL (short takeoff and landing).

If anyone thinks that helicopters are using thrust vectoring, then I am too sorry because they do not come under the category of fixed-wing aircraft, as they are rotary wing aircraft. All VTOL fixed-wing fighters though have thrust vectoring, they are not using it to achieve higher maneuverability. They simply use to bypass the engine exhaust through another duct pointing downwards. The challenge there is to achieve stability because for thrust pointing directly downwards, there are a lot of stability issues that pop up, not to mention conditions when there is high wind or gusts in the atmosphere which is very common on a ship in the ocean, but the main challenge as I pointed earlier in fighters when they use thrust vectoring for maneuverability is that then you have to move the nozzles itself and not just bypass the exhaust through a separate duct, so designing the bearing becomes a difficult issue.

I will come up with more advanced answers related to thrust vectoring nozzle and maneuvers that are possible by using this system in my upcoming hubs.

Take care. Happy flying...........

P.S.: As I promised, I have created a new hub which is the second part of this hub - Thrust vectoring Sukhoi Su-30 MKI Part II

In this new article, I have written on thrust vectoring success by American's on V-22 Osprey and compared it with Sukhoi SU 30 MKi. I hope you will enjoy this information.

Sukhoi su Flanker at Indian Service
Sukhoi su Flanker at Indian Service | Source
Thrust vectoring control system - fine graphics
Thrust vectoring control system - fine graphics | Source
Sukhoi SU 30 MKI toy showing thrust vectoring nozzles.
Sukhoi SU 30 MKI toy showing thrust vectoring nozzles. | Source
Pugachev's maneuver performed using thrust vectoring system.
Pugachev's maneuver performed using thrust vectoring system. | Source
Sukhoi Su-30 MKI thrust vectoring control rear view
Sukhoi Su-30 MKI thrust vectoring control rear view | Source
F-22 Raptor in air
F-22 Raptor in air | Source
X-31 aircraft mid air.
X-31 aircraft mid air. | Source
AV-8B Harrier II is a second generation vertical takeoff and landing VTOL and short takeoff and landing STOL ground attack fighter aircraft
AV-8B Harrier II is a second generation vertical takeoff and landing VTOL and short takeoff and landing STOL ground attack fighter aircraft | Source

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Comments 36 comments

Pravin Yadav 7 years ago

Very nice hub. Really Brilliant information. I am an aviation student and I thank you for writing out this useful article.


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 7 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

Yes this hub is meant for all but especially for students who are pursuing career in aviation, aeronautics, and aerodynamics. Thanks Pravin for visiting and taking time to read this useful hub.


quicksand profile image

quicksand 7 years ago

A very interesting hub indeed. I am an aeronautics fan too. Thanks.


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 7 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

So quicksand you are also the one like me who have keen interest in aeronautics. We were not able to become an aeronautic engineer or a pilot but at least we can write and share our thoughts on this through hubpages which is a great platform for any type of topic you want to read, understand, write, think, and discuss about.


warplane lover 7 years ago

Thanks for this nice explanation. Another good article I read after a long time.


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 7 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

Thank you warplane lover for your visit and comment.


divyansh 6 years ago

this is cool

i need some more information on the mechanism on 3-D vectoring

could you manage??????

very intrested

thinking it as a project


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 6 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

What do you want to know about 3-D vectoring Divyansh. Let me know and I will publish a new hub on that. Might be possible that there are other people who are looking for the same information.


JineshJK 6 years ago

Bro... "V-22 Osprey in" in TVC class???


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 6 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

Can you please explain your question in detail. I am unable to understand.


siddharth kulkarni 6 years ago

where can i get most lateat ysflight simulator


David 6 years ago

Hey soni , i am also interested in knowing more about TV as i am embarking on a project on that . Is it possible to provide a more in-depth mechanism on how TV actually works ? Thanks !


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 6 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

Hi Siddharth, you can Buy Microsoft Latest Flight Simulator X Deluxe DVD' by Microsoft (Oct 17, 2006) (Pc) for $17.99 http://bit.ly/8X26G3


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 6 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

Definitely David, you can find information on in-depth mechanism on how TV actually works via googling for it. There are a lot of sites which shed light on this.


Maverick 6 years ago

The writer made a mistake in the second section. Pugachev's Cobra, or the cobra maneuver, as he refers to it in the "What is Thrust Vectoring" section, can be performed by aircraft that DO NOT HAVE thrust vectoring as well. Pugachev's Cobra does not require TVC nozzles. However, the installation of this piece of hardware does make the maneuver much easier.


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 6 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

I think you are right Maverick. I made a mistake and it needs to be corrected honestly. Thanks for the feedback. Feedback help us improve our articles.


stones 5 years ago

SU-30 MKI and F-22 have 1-dimensional thrust vectoring and MIG-35 is the only plane to have 2 dimensional thrust vectoring

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikoyan_MiG-35


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 5 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

Thanks for the additional info "Stones".


Afex 5 years ago

As you say "the russians have a separate control for controlling TV of the nozzle". Do you know wich one is the controller and how it works? Where is located in the cockpit?

Thanks, a lot for the article, has been the only one where i found info about the TVC works.


JineshJK 5 years ago

Sorry, Once again, i didn't explained my previous question.

that, "Bro... "V-22 Osprey in" in TVC class???" I mean is V-22 Osprey using Thrust Vectoring Control systems? while V-22 propulsion system is propeller based.


JineshJK 5 years ago

Oh sorry, now i got it. I blindly combined the term 'thrust' only with turbine engines.


sidhant 5 years ago

nice explanation,a good research.


Glen619 profile image

Glen619 5 years ago from Camden, New Jersey

I am interested in planes and found this hub really interesting


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 5 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

@Afex, JineshJK, Sidhant, and Glen619, thank you so much for your comments and visit.


Vishal Bulbule 5 years ago

Dear,

You do an excellent work. I have too much interest in military machines, especially aircraft. I often spend time on internet and keep sitting in front of computers for hours browsing weapon stuffs. I have written for Daily Loksatta on many topics in Marathi. Including an article on Sukhoi-30MKIs capabilites and had written how it is different and more capable than its Chinese counterpart. Thrust Vectored Engines can allow any flying machine hovor like a helicopter. V-22 Ospray or See Harriers can land on a buliding tarrace as well as in a densed jungle only because of Thrust Vectored Engines. If we can refit our entire existing fleet of Mig-29Bs, we can for some American Aircraft also including F-16IN which is a great aircraft as far as manuerability and accuracy in weapon firing is concerned.

We should think of refiting our 65+ Mig-29Bs with Thrust Vectored Engines of OVTs as said earlier. What are your thaughts on this Soni..?


soni2006 profile image

soni2006 5 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

Hello Vishal Bulbule, this is Soni Chitkule just joking actually Rajinder soni, you have some awesome thoughts bro. Thinking so much about improving our weaponry and aircraft systems is the most important thing, but I doubt if any engineers in the Indian Air Force are reading this. Refitting our 65+ Mig-29Bs with thrust vectored engines is an awesome idea and will add to the Indian Air Force's capability and strength but still we can only think of it. Actually, it is up to them to do this. Anyways, this is a really nice idea of yours and really impressed of your so much interest in fighter aircrafts.


Fastest Car Rider profile image

Fastest Car Rider 5 years ago from California

wow impressed so many followers..I wish

Nice good Job


rupin_212 profile image

rupin_212 5 years ago from roorkee, india

NICE ONE SONI...

I LIKED IT, SUKHOI IS ONE OF THE MOST TECHNICALLY ADVANCED WARCRAFT.


Neil 5 years ago

@Vishal Bulbule, @soni2006

Thrust vectoring does not necessarily allow all TVC controlled aircraft to hover like a helicopter. It depends on the control law and the design of the engines and the deflection of the nozzle.

There are only 2 operational jet fighters(not technology demonstrators) that can hover, the harrier jump jets and F-35 lightning since their vectoring is single dimensional. The V-22 osprey can also hover but unlike the above mentioned aircrafts, it has turbo prop engines. The Su-30 MKI, F-22 Raptor have 2D vectoring in the Pitch axis, whereas the SU-35BM, Mig-35, PAK FA have 3D thrust vectoring in the pitch and yaw axis. None of these aircrafts can hover but they can perform maneuvers at very low speeds which would put other conventional aircrafts in a stall.

The MiG 29's are powered by the RD-33 engines and variants of the same, the latest variant being RD-33OVT which powers the Mig 35. Therefore it does not make sense to replace functional engines with new ones and that too on aging airframes(our mig 29s were purchased in the 1980's).

Eurofighter GMBH has offer TVC engines on the EF Typhoons for India if they win the contract for the MMRCA deal.


aa 5 years ago

how you confirmed manufacturing of al 3p by hal . I think it is only assembling . Any confirmation.


ram 5 years ago

very very nice dude


Cory 5 years ago

America has been testing TVC on aircraft for a couple of decades now. They have the X31 which you mentioned but they also have / had the following programs.

F-15 ACTIVE

F-15 STOL/MTD

F-16 MATV

F-18 HARV

All 3D thrust vectoring platforms for testing maneuverability, high alpha flight, and other control advantages and disadvantages of TVC.


Neil 4 years ago

Yes that is true. However, all of these were test beds and technology demonstrators. The US has only 2 operational TVC controlled fighters. Namely the F22 Raptor and F-35 JSF. Both are 5th generation fighters whereas the test beds were 4th generation fighters (X-31 was an experimental craft by NASA).

Russia used the SU-47 Berkut and Su-37 as test beds for AL-41 FP1 TVC engines as well as radars, avionics and other flight control systems which eventually will make its way into the the PAK FA (also a 5th generation fighter being developed to counter the F-22 and F-35).

The 4++ generation operational fighters controlled by TVC are...

SU 30 variants (MKI, MKM etc)

SU 35 BM

EF typhoon Tranche 3 may be fitted with TVC engines.


Neil 4 years ago

Add MiG 35 to the above list.


Vishal Bulbule 4 years ago

To Neil

You r right dear. V-22 is only an example of thrust vectoring. Not thrust vectored engine. Fitting Mig-29s with THrust vectored engines is still a good idea i feel. We have just spent a lot on updating 3rd generation Mig-27. Why is it so then..? Only beause we have just purchased these aircraft? only 18 years back. We are also spending a huge amount of money on upgrading Mirage-2000H working with Dassault. According to you all these things must be useless then. Because we purchased Mig-29 and Mirage-2000H at the same time if you know. I know Mig-29 has RD-33. I also read dear.

Ok lets just enjoy Rafale's selection. I am so happy to see this aircraft got selected. It was always my favourite.

126 (200..?) Rafale

270+ Sukhoi 30 MKIs,

200 FGFA

50+ Upgraded Mirage-2kH

60+ Upgraded Mig-29Bs (to Mig-29M3)

Ohh my god...we can rule Asia Pacific Region.

We may also go for some U.S. made fighter aircraft.

May be 40 F-35L-2 in the very recent future.

We have already started operating Russian Mig-29 K which is considered a very good naval jet.

But we have taken 5 extra years in selecting MMRCA. That was an idiot act. Immediate compensation is required for this in the form of some quick purchase of some 20 new combat aircraft to fill the gap created by Mig-25's retirement. We are GARUDLESS since 7 years.


Neil 4 years ago

Vishal,

I never said I am against upgrading of MiG 29s. But I disagree with adding tvc engines on the MiG 29s. I have answered your questions/statements below:

1. Fitting Mig-29s with THrust vectored engines is still a good idea i feel.

Neil: For your information, we are already upgrading our MiG 29s to SMT standard. Adding TVC engines on our MiG 29s would not make sense. The upgrade of all IAF MiG-29 "Baaz" to latest MiG-29UPG standard is in process, which will include latest avionics, Zhuk-ME Radar, RD-33 series 3 engine, weapon control systems etc., enhancing multirole capabilities by many-fold. Also, you will have to write new control laws for the TVC controls which does not make sense. The ugrade costs would go so high, it would almost be the same as purchasing a new aircraft.

2. We have just spent a lot on updating 3rd generation Mig-27. Why is it so then..?

Neil: We should have started the upgrades long back, before the MiG 27s started dropping like flies. If you remember during the Kargil war, One MiG 27 crashed due to a faulty engine. This is NOT acceptable in a war. The escorting MiG 21 went to look for the MiG 27 and was also shot down by a shoulder mounted stinger missile.

Russia and Ukraine have retired their MiG 27s already. We have not because we don't have a choice as there was (and is) a huge delay in MMRCA procurement.

3. Only beause we have just purchased these aircraft? only 18 years back.

Neil: What are you talking about? We inducted MiG 27s in 1986 and MiG 29s in 1985. Please get your facts right.

4. We are also spending a huge amount of money on upgrading Mirage-2000H working with Dassault. According to you all these things must be useless then. Because we purchased Mig-29 and Mirage-2000H at the same time if you know. I know Mig-29 has RD-33. I also read dear.

Neil: Maybe you read but I am not sure if you pay attention to facts and practicality and in some cases I am astonished by your misinformation. Obviously we need to upgrade aging aircrafts as every other country does. But if you think upgrading an aircraft is be all and end all of everything, then you need to think again. Upgrading an older aircraft increases the service life and enhances the capability of the original aircraft to a certain extent. Thats all. There is a limit to the extent an existing aircraft can be upgraded after which, financial feasability and lifecycle cost comes into question.

5. Ohh my god...we can rule Asia Pacific Region.

Neil: Sorry to rain on your parade but you need a reality check. Before ruling asia, don't forget the dragon called China.

6. 200 FGFA

Neil: Looooooooooooonggggg way of. First the PAK-FA has to be ready. THEN the FGFA will be worked upon. In case you haven't heard the latest, PAK FA has been delayed by 2 years.

7. 60+ Upgraded Mig-29Bs (to Mig-29M3)

Neil: Wrong again! The upgrade standard will be MiG 29UPG which is similar to SMT standards but with an international avionics suite.

8. We may also go for some U.S. made fighter aircraft.

Neil: Why do you think we never went for F-18 Super Hornet or F-16 Block 60? US never agreed to Total Transfer of Technology. Their deals always come with strings attached and prone to sanctions.

9. May be 40 F-35L-2 in the very recent future.

Neil: Now I am 100% sure you are out of mind. Its an incredibly costly fighter with extremely limited capabilities and high maintenance. It can carry only two A to A missiles in its internal bays and is more of a strike fighter with limited air to air capabilities. It has a low thrust to weight ratio meaning it can't maintain a sustained turn rate which is crucial for a dog fight at high AOA with a top speed of only Mach 1.6.

10. Immediate compensation is required for this in the form of some quick purchase of some 20 new combat aircraft to fill the gap created by Mig-25's retirement. We are GARUDLESS since 7 years.

Neil: Do you even know why the MiG 25s were retired? It was simply because we don't need them anymore. Its an incredibly high maintainance aircraft with no upgrade programs. Its role of recon can now be carried out by spy satelites. It sis technologically obsolete.

We do not need any aircraft to replce the MiG 25s which in anycase were just a handful.

Suggestion as one aviation fan to another: Get real, be practical and always keep yourself updated and remember that no aircraft in this world is invulnerable. If there are measures, there are counter measures.

Good day to you!

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