Development of the Su-30 began in the middle of the 1980s. Even before the Flanker entered service, it was redesigned. The aim was to found a whole family of aircraft, composed of a long-range interceptor, an air superiority fighter, a tactical fighter-bomber and a multirole aircraft.
The Su-30, at first called Su-27UP, was decided to be the long-range interceptor. The first prototype (T-10PU-5) had its first flight on 30th December 1989. The prototype did not show any problems, so it entered service quickly. On 14th April 1992, the first flight of the definitive Su-30 aircraft took place, and service entry of the Su-30 was the same year. The Su-30 acts as a supplement for the Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound, to be used against enemy cruise missiles. The Su-30 is also meant to intercept American B-1 and B-52 bombers over the Pacific Ocean. But after the fall of the Soviet Union, this concept became unecessary, so the Su-30 was no longer needed. This caused the Su-30 to be built in small numbers only.
Sukhoi then began searching for new tasks for the Su-30. It was redesigned and modified into a multirole aircraft, in a design based on the F-15E Strike Eagle, in some aspects. The result was the Su-30M, which was primarily designed to act as a fighter-bomber. The aircraft's electronics were also modified for this role, and the tail was better armored. The variant for export market is the Su-30MK, which prevailed itself very often against its American and European competitors on Asian market place. China and India in particular are buying variants of the Su-30MK, making it one of the most built aircraft in the world.
Despite the Su-30's size and weight, it has surprisingly good flight performance, able to perform the Cobra manoeuvre and the Kulbit. In comparison to the Su-27, the Su-30 has a lower rate of climb and top speed, but the Su-30 is much more manoeuvreable. While performing rapid turnings, the aircraft losses speed and altitude very quickly. This happens especially on thrust vectoring aircraft, in which the engines boost the manoeuvreability enormous. One of the best traits of the Su-30 is its flexibility, making it able to perform many different of missions. Only the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet and JAS-39 Gripen have shown similar flexibility, but they have inferior performance in comparison to the Su-30. But this changed with the service entry of the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale, and will change with the service entry of the F-35 Lightning II.
The Su-30 doesn´t have any stealth capabilities or next generation avionics and electronics, but it also has a higher fuel consumption than American and European fighters.