Russia’s Darkest and Most Mysterious Fighter/Bomber In Its History

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The Sukhoi Su-7 was the product of Soviet engineer, Pavel Sukhoi’s dream of building an ultimate fighter/bomber. What’s interesting though is that its service life extended far beyond Soviet territory.


The production of Su-7 was built in the spring of 1958. However, the aircraft faced several issues that needed to be resolved before entering operational service. 

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Regardless, the production persisted, leading to the development of the base Su-7 fighter in 1959. The Su-7 entered service in 1961, poised to become a symbol of Soviet Aviation strength during the Cold War. 

Promise and Pitfalls

Pilots valued the plane’s docile flight characteristics, user-friendly controls, and impressive speed even at low altitudes. Despite its merits, there were also some drawbacks. 

For instance, long take-off runs, and high landing speed challenge pilots that risk stalling and crashing short at the runway. Moreover, poor cockpit visibility and lack of an instrument landing system exacerbated these issues. However, its most significant issue was the Al-7 engine’s fuel consumption which severely limited the Su-7’s range and payload capacity. 

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Still, despite the Su-7 and its variants being the main Soviet ground attack aircraft of the 1960s, it never saw combat in the Soviet Union service. 

Export Adventures

On the flip side, foreign buyers, mostly from the Middle East welcomed planes with open arms and breathed new life into the fitter model. 691 planes in total, including trainers, found their way to countries like Egypt, India, Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Korea. 

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The plane remained in Soviet service until 1986, replaced eventually by the more advanced Su-17.