I'm a bit confused about the designations used, especially Su-22M2 and M3. Reading thru this topic , is it to be assumed that Su-22M2 and M3 were Iraqi AF personnel designations for these aircraft ? (not unheard of as other airforces uses local unoficial designations for aircraft in service).
These designations are standard designations for exported aircraft, and they have been used in other air forces as well. Surely, some air forces used slightly different, local designation, but the IrAF did not do that.
So, in essence, there have been six major variants of Sukhois with variable-geometry wings delivered to Iraq, as follows:
- Su-20 (the first variant with variable-geometry wing)
- Su-22 (a sub-variant with stronger engine and a large housing including additional avionics under the intake)
- Su-22UM-3K (a two-seat variant used as conversion trainer)
- Su-22M-4K (the most advanced variant with digital nav/attack platform, also called "flying computer")
Confirmation for the existence of such variants like Su-22M-3K can be found in Libya these days, for example: the Libyan Su-22M-3Ks operated by two squadrons of that air force have flown a number of combat sorties during the rebellion there, before most were destroyed by the NATO, on 20-21 March 2011.
Manufacturer designations for all these variants were completely different. And, to make things really complex, there were plenty of sub-variants, like recce-variants, anti-radar variants, two-seat derivatives, then desginations depending on their engines (Lyulka AL-7Fs or Tumansky R-29) etc.. Also, the Soviet air force has had its own designations for them, since the entire series was sorted under "Su-17" there. Related to Iraq, most important variants were as follows:
- S.32 = Su-17 = only a few examples named "Su-20MK" were exported to Egypt, in the early 1970s
- S.32M = Su-17M = Su-20
- S.32-85 and S.32-92 = Su-17M2 = not exported
- S.32MK = not served in USSR = Su-22
(note: there was also Su-17UM-2 variant, manufactured for the Soviet AF; this was subsequently developed into the S.52 = Su-17M-3 = Su-22M-3K)
- S.52 = Su-17M-3 = export variant was manufactured as S.52K, see bellow
- S.52K = not served in USSR = Su-22M-2K
- S.52MK and MZK = not served in USSR = Su-22M-3K
- S.54 = Su-17M-4 = Su-22M-4K
Now, if you want to make it really complex, one could add that some air forces did apply their own designations to various of above-mentioned variants. For example, the Angolans have called their Su-22s the "Su-22M-4". Similarly, Peruvians called their Su-22s the "Su-22A", and their Su-22M-3Ks the "Su-22M-2D"... But, this was not the case in Iraq. Also, as far as I can say, all the official Iraqi documents are very specific - and usually 100% correct - in regards of variants. See for example the letter from September 1991, in which the IrAF and the Iraqi Foreign Ministry were demanding 124 very specific aircraft back from Iran: every single Sukhoi (and Mirage, and other aircraft) was cited with its exact sub-variant in that latter. Similarly, the IrAF Analysis of Losses from 1991-1992 provided a very precise break-down per variant.
1) To my knowledge the manufacturer's designations for the Iraqi Sukhoi VG modifications should be in order Su-20, Su-22 (with no letter-the aircraft with the undernose fairing), and Su-22M (aircraft with big spine), and of course the last is Su-22M4. The real Su-22M3 aparently was built in limited numbers and can be readily identified by the suplementary R-60 pylons between the two fixed wing pylons on previous export marks ( like on Su-22M4). Seems Hungary only had some ( i might be wrong though).
In essence, you're right. However, as described above, there were also two additional variants "in between" the Su-22M and Su-22M-4K. Namely, Su-22M-2K and Su-22M-3K.
The IrAF received the following variants (in chronological order of delivery):
- 18 Su-20 delivered in October 1973 (Lyulka AL-7F engines), all served with No.1 Squadron
- 36 Su-22 delivered in 1976 (Tumansky R-29 engines), of which 18 served with No.44 Squadron and 18 with No.109 Squadron; several of these belonged to the Su-22R sub-variant which could carry the KKR-1 recce pod
- 18 Su-22M delivered in 1978, all served with No.5 Squadron; six of these were upgraded to Su-22M-2K standard in 1981, equipped with Kh-58C/E anti-radar missiles (manufactured under licence in Iraq as "Nissin-28")
- some 20 Su-22M-2Ks were purchased in 1983 in order to replace losses; they re-equipped the entire No.5 Squadron, releasing remaining Su-22Ms to be transferred to No.44 Squadron.
- 18 Su-22M-2Ks were purchased in 1983-1984 in order to replace remaining Su-22s of No.109 Squadron (only 3 of these survived by the time)
- 18 Su-22M-3Ks were purchased in 1984; they entered service with No.69 Squadron; these were the first Iraqi Su-22 compatible with advanced PGMs and R-60s
- 36 Su-22M-4K were purchased in 1986-1987 and they entered service with No.5 and No.109 Squadrons
2) According to the Iraqi AF top secret analysis from where the numbers of available numbers in 1990 come from , there were 10 Su-22R and 24 "Sukhoi-M2"-persumably Su-22s- left in 1990. Should it be understood that Iraq bought initially 36 Su-22R and 36 "Su-22M2"? I think Mr. Cooper in one of the captions for a reconnaisance configured Su-22 ( with no letter) states that only 6 KKR-1 pods were delivered. Is it possible that actually the Su-22R number is included in the "Su-22M2" number , and somehow they got counted twice ?
Sorry, but I do not know what "top secret analysis" of the IrAF do you mean.
The data in "Iraqi Fighters" is coming from personal records of Brig Gen Sadik. As IrAF IA officer, he served at al-Hurrya AB during the first few years of the war with Iran, and thus witnessed most of the ops of local units equipped with Sukhois first hand: in fact, he was responsible for putting together their post-mission briefings and reporting about these to the IrAF HQ, and thus had a first-class insight into what was going on.
BTW, the IrAF lost a total of 64 Su-20/22s (all variants) in combat during the war with Iran (training accidents excluded), and one during the war with Kuwait, in August 1990. The worst affected variant was the Su-22, only three of which were left by 1983 (all three can be found in derelict condition at the former Habbaniya AB, even today). That is the figure from the IrAF's Analysis of Combat Losses, put together in 1991-1992.