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Sukhoi Su-27

The Sukhoi 27 (Su-27 - NATO designation: Flanker) is a Russian single-seater fighter aircraft designed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau (SDB) under Pavel Sukhoi. The aircraft is currently in service with the airforces of the CIS, China (as the J-11), Syria, and Vietnam. India has also received a variant of Su-27s, designated Su-30MKI's (Flanker-C). The export cost is around $35 million per aircraft, or $70 million on a ten-year supported lease.

Table of contents
1 Background
2 Weaponry
3 Technical details


In 1969, the leaders of the Soviet Union decided to build an air superiority fighter aircraft that would be a match for the U.S. and other NATO fighters of the time, the PFI (perspektivnyi frontovoy istrebitel, advanced frontal fighter) program. It was supposed to have a greater range and weaponry than its Western counterparts.

Eight years later the designers at Sukhoi started to test a prototype named T10 (Flanker-A), making the first test flight on May 20, 1977. However, due to several technical flaws the aircraft did not meet the expectations of the Soviet airforce(VVS). After the second of the two prototypes crashed in July 1978, killing a pilot the development work was greatly slowed.

It was not until 1981 that the SDB built a new prototype, the T10S (Flanker-B), which was a radical redesign of the T-10. The new design showed sufficient improvements that it was accepted and became the Su-27, entering service in 1984. However, it was not until 1990 that certain problems were fully resolved. Despite that from 1986 a special Su-27 designated P-42 started to set the first in a series of performance records for rate of climb and altitude, the aircraft setting 27 new class records between 1986 and 1988.

It is a large and heavy aircraft, made of lightweight aluminium alloy and flown with a complex fly-by-wire control system, making it very manoeuvrable. In airshows the aircraft demonstrated its manoeuvrability with a Cobra or dynamic deceleration - briefly sustained level flight at a 120 degree up angle of attack. Certain Su-27s were also tested with thrust vector control, allowing the craft to perform hard turns with almost no radius, incorporate vertical somersaults into level motion and limited nose-up hovering.

A naval variant, the Su-33, first tested in August 1987 was planned for the Admiral Kuznetsov.

Around 680 were manufactured by the USSR, and 400 are in service with the Russian Tactical Air Force. Of the CIS member states, Kazakhstan has around 30 and is due a further 12 under agreement; Belarus has, possibly, 20; the Ukraine has around 60; Uzbekistan perhaps 25. China received 26 in 1991-92 and a further 24 in 1995-96 before signing a agreement for licensed manufacture of 200 as the J-11 in 1998. Vietnam has twelve and has order a further 24. Ethiopia has 8 Su-27A and 2 Su-27U.


Technical details

Source for technical and weaponry data: Modern Combat Aircraft: Reference guide pp. 50-51 Minsk, "Elida", 1997, ISBN 985-6163-10-2 (Russian language).

See also: Comparison of 2000s fighter aircraft