Tr 3b Astra

Su-30 of the Russian Air Force in flight over Russia
Role : Multirole fighter
Manufacturer : Sukhoi
First flight : 31 December 1.989
Introduction : 1.996
Status : In production, in service
Primary users : Indian Air Force
PLA Air Force (China)
Venezuelan Air Force
Royal Malaysian Air Force
Number built : 200+
Unit cost : US$33–45 million
Developed from : Sukhoi Su-27
Variants : Sukhoi Su-30MKI

The Sukhoi Su-30 (Cyrillic: Сухой Су-30) (NATO reporting name Flanker-C) is a twin-engine, two-seat supermanoeuverable fighter aircraft developed by Russia's Sukhoi Aviation Corporation.

It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.

The Su-30 started out as an internal development project in the Sukhoi Su-27 family by Sukhoi.

The design plan was revamped and the name was made official by the Russian Defense Ministry in 1.996.

Of the Flanker family, only the Su-27, Su-30, Su-34 and Su-35 have been ordered into serial production by the Defense Ministry. All the others, such as Su-37, were prototypes.

The Su-30 has two distinct version branches, manufactured by competing organisations : KnAAPO and the Irkut Corporation, both of which come under the Sukhoi group's umbrella.

KnAAPO manufactures the Su-30MKK and the Su-30MK2, which were designed for and sold to China, and later Indonesia and Vietnam.

Due to KnAAPO's involvement from the early stages of developing Su-35, these are basically a two-seat version of the mid-1.990s Su-35.

The Chinese chose an older but lighter radar so the canards could be omitted in return for increased payload. It is a dedicated strike fighter designed for long-range air-to-surface attack missions, similar to the American F-15E.

Irkut traditionally served the Soviet Air Defense and, in the early years of Flanker development, was given the responsibility of manufacturing the Su-27UB, the two-seat trainer version of the Su-27.

When India showed interests in the Su-30, Irkut offered the multirole Su-30MKI, which originated as the Su-27UB modified with avionics appropriate for fighters.

Along with its ground-attack capabilities, the series adds features for the air-superiority role, such as thrust-vectoring, forward canards and a long-range phase-array radar. Its derivatives include the Su-30MKM, MKA and MKV for Malaysia, Algeria and Venezuela, respectively.

The Russian Air Force is in talks to buy 28 to 40 Su-30 C fighters from Sukhoi's Irkut production facility.


While the original Su-27 had good range, it still did not have enough range for the Soviet Air Defense Forces (PVO, as opposed to VVS – the Soviet Air Force).

The Air Defense Forces needed to cover the vast expanse of the Soviet Union. Hence, development began in 1.986 on the Su-27PU, an improved-capability variant of the Su-27 capable of serving as a long-range interceptor or airborne command post.

The two-seat Su-27UB combat trainer was selected as the basis for the Su-27PU, because it had the performance of a single-seat Su-27 and long-range missions require two crew members.

A "proof-of-concept" demonstrator flew 6 June 1987, and this success led to the kick-off of development work on two Su-27PU prototypes. The first Su-27PU flew at Irkutsk on 31 December 1.989, and the first of three pre-production models flew in 14 April 1.992.

To adapt the Su-27UB to its new role, the aircraft was fitted with a retractable in-flight refuelling probe to increase range; the probe is offset to the left side of the nose and, to accommodate it, the IRST was offset to the right.

The aircraft's avionics were changed, fitting special communications and guidance equipment to command formation flights of single-seat Su-27 interceptors. The rear cockpit received a large CRT display which provides the formation leader with tactical information regarding targets and interceptors.

The navigation and fly-by-wire systems were also upgraded. It was fitted with an updated NIIP N001 radar, providing some ability for ground attack and to track and engage multiple aerial targets simultaneously.

Sukhoi offered the Su-27PU to be used as a "fighter controller", a sort of mini-AWACS, with the back-seater using the radar and data links to control other fighters.

However, the PVO was not interested in buying the Su-27PU. All five Su-27PUs, with the new designation of "Su-30", ended up in PVO service in the training role. Deliveries to the 54th Interceptor Air Regiment at the advanced training base at Savostleyka began in 1.996.

A Su-30M two-seat multirole variant was proposed for Russian use and a few may have been built in the mid-1990s for evaluation. Sukhoi also proposed an export variant, Su-30MK, where "MK" stood for "Modernizirovannyi Kommercheskiy" (Modernized Commercial).

Sukhoi displayed a Su-30MK demonstrator at the Paris Air Show in 1993. A much more optimised Su-30MK demonstrator, rebuilt from the first production Su-27PU, was displayed in 1.994.


The Su-30 is a multirole fighter. It has a two seat cockpit with an airbrake behind the canopy.

The Su-30MK is capable of accomplishing a wide variety of combat missions at significant distances from the home base, in any weather conditions and during radar jamming, both by day and night.

This multirole aircraft is adequately fitted for the entire spectrum of tactical and operational combat employment scenarios, varying from counter-air tasks (i.e. gaining air superiority, air defence, air patrol and escort) to ground attack, suppression of enemy air defences, air interdiction, close air support and maritime attack.

Additionally, the Su-30MK can perform ECCM and early warning tasks, as well as exercise command-and-control over a group of aerial combat assets performing joint missions. It has a 9 g load manoeuvrability.

Flight characteristics

The Su-30MK's aerodynamic configuration is an unstable-in-longitude triplane. To increase lifting effectiveness and enhance manoeuvrability of the aircraft, foreplanes are installed.

They are deflected automatically to ensure controlled flight at high angles-of-attack. Foreplanes, however, are installed only in some Su-30 variants like the Su-30MKI.

The integrated aerodynamic configuration, combined with the thrust vectoring control ability, results in unprecedented manoeuvrability and unique takeoff and landing characteristics.

Equipped with a digital fly-by-wire system, the Su-30MK is able to perform some very advanced manoeuvres. They include the well-known Pugachev’s Cobra and the Bell.

This allows the aircraft to rapidly strip airspeed, causing a pursuing fighter to overshoot.

While performing a somersault manoeuvre the aircraft makes 360-degree turn in the pitch plane without any loss of altitude. In the Controlled Flat Spin manoeuvre the aircraft performs several full turns in the horizontal plane, with zero forward speed, virtually on the spot.


The aircraft's power plant incorporates two Saturn AL-31F afterburning low-bypass turbofan engines. Two AL-31F turbofans, each rated at 12,500 kgf (123 kN, 27,550 lb) of full afterburning thrust ensures Mach 2 in level flight, 1,350 km/h speed at low altitude, and a 230 m/s climbing rate.

With a normal fuel reserve of 5,270 kg, the Su-30MK is capable of performing a 4.5-hour combat mission with a range of 3,000 km. An in-flight refuelling system increases the range to 5,200 km (3,200 mi) or flight duration up to 10 hours at cruise altitudes.

The long range significantly increases deployment options. The missions vary from prolonged patrols, and escorts to long-range intercepts and ground attacks.

The thrust vectoring engines on some Su-30 variants have nozzles with turn axes positioned at 32-deg angle to each other. The differential ±15-degree deflection of the engines' asymmetric nozzles enables pitch/yaw thrust vectoring control. Depending on the manoeuvre to be performed, nozzles deflections can be synchronised with or differ from the deflections of horizontal tail planes.

Two-member crew

A two-member crew configuration contributes significantly to enhanced combat capabilities, due to rational distribution of workload between crew members. While the first pilot flies the aircraft, controls weapons and performs manoeuvring dogfight, the co-pilot employs BVR air-to-air and air-to-ground guided weapons in long-range engagements, monitors tactical environment to ensure situational awareness, and performs command-and-control tasks in group missions.


Radar: Either a N001VE or Phazotron N010 Zhuk-27 or an N011M BARS pulse Doppler passive electronically scanned array radar. Capable of detecting and tracking up to 15 air targets, while concurrently attacking four of them.

The N011M BARS radar (featuring a 20-m/65.6-ft resolution) ensures detection of large sea-surface targets at a distance of up to 400 km (250 mi), and small-size ones at a distance of up to 120 km (75 mi).

Other avionics include an integrated optronic sighting-and-navigation system with a laser gyro navigation system; helmet-mounted displays, a head-up-display, multifunction color LCDs with image mixing ability; and a GPS system (GLONASS/NAVSTAR compatible).

IR and laser sighting pods to detect and engage small-size ground targets are available for installation. The aircraft is provided with an ECCM facility intended to subvert hostile electronic and electro-optical countermeasures.

The aircraft features autopilot ability at all flight stages including low-altitude flight in terrain-following mode, and individual and group combat employment against air and ground/sea-surface targets. Automatic control system interconnected with the navigation system ensures route flight, target approach, recovery to airfield and landing approach in automatic mode.

Unit Costs

A standard Su-30K is estimated at US$34 million.

A Su-30MKK variant is estimated at US$53 million.


Long range interceptor based on two-seater Su-27UB trainer. Later renamed Su-30.
Testbed fighter with canards added. Its NATO codename is 'Flanker-C'.
Commercial version of the basic Su-30.
Sukhoi proposal for upgrading Russian AF single seat Su-27S. Also proposed export version for Indonesia, 24 were ordered but subsequently cancelled due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the only single seat in Su-30 family. Its NATO codename is 'Flanker-B' Mod. 2.
Upgrade project for operational two-seat fighters, the Su-27UB, Su-30 and Su-30K. This was cancelled in Russia but later revived as Su-30M2. Belorussia is updating their Su-30K to the Su-30KN standard.[9] Its NATO codename is 'Flanker-B' Mod. 2.
An upgraded Su-27PU with multirole capabilities.
Commercial version of Su-30M first revealed in 1.993. Export versions include navigation and communication equipment from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
A Su-30 version from manufacturer KnAAPO based on the Su-30MK with canards and optional thrust-vectoring. The Russian Air Force placed an initial order for the variant in 2.009. Factory tests were completed in September 2.010.
MKI stands for "Modernizirovannyi, Kommercheskiy, Indiski" meaning "Modernized, Commercial, Indian". Jointly-developed with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Air Force. Includes thrust vectoring control (TVC) and canards. Equipped with a multinational avionics complex sourced from Israel, India, Russia and France.Its NATO codename is 'Flanker-H'.
Export version for China. MKK stands for Modernizirovannyi, Kommercheskiy, Kitayski or "Modernized, Commercial, China". Its NATO codename is 'Flanker-G'.
A derivative of the India-Russian MKI,[15] the MKM is a highly specialised version for Royal Malaysian Air Force (M is for 'Malaysia' ).[citation needed] It includes thrust vectoring control (TVC) and canards but with avionics from various countries.

It will feature head-up displays (HUD), navigational forward-looking IR system (NAVFLIR) and Damocles Laser Designation pod (LDP) from Thales Group of France, MAW-300 missile approach warning sensor (MAWS), RWS-50 RWR and laser warning sensor (LWS) from SAAB AVITRONICS (South Africa) as well as the Russian NIIP N011M BARS PESA radar, electronic warfare (EW) system, optical-location system (OLS) and a glass cockpit.
Export version for Venezuela is most likely to be similar to the Su-30MK2. This is based on the presence of two such demonstrator models (No. 0460 and No. 1259) from the KnAAPO facility that took part in July 2.006 national day parade in Caracas.
Su-30MKK with upgraded electronics that enabled support for anti-ship missiles.
Su-30MK2 variant for Vietnam with minor modifications.
Su-30MKK with Zhuk MSE radar and Support for Kh-59MK anti-ship missile.
A specialised version for Algeria based on the MKI but with French and Russian avionics as specified by the Algerians.
A specialized version of the thrust-vectoring Su-30MKI for Russian military.


Operators of the Su-30 as of 2.010 :

Sukhoi-30MKI, Indian Air Force, Aeroindia 05.

Venezuelan Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MK2

Algerian Air Force has 28 Su-30MK fighters in service as of January 2.010.16 more are on order to be delivered instead of 36 MiG-29SMT/UBT aircraft.

People's Republic of China - People's Liberation Army Air Force operates the Su-30MKK variant. The
People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force operates the Su-30MK2 variant.

Indian Air Force operates the Su-30MKI variant. The IAF has over 140 Su-30MKI in service.

Indonesian Air Force ordered three Su-30MK2 and received two on 26 December 2.008 and the third in 2.009.The Indonesian Air Force has 2 Su-30MKs and 3 Su-30MK2s in service as of early 2.009. Another batch of 6 additional fighters were ordered in 2010.[24]

Royal Malaysian Air Force after a close visit to see India's Su-30MKI, signed a deal to purchase 18 of Su-30MKM in May 2.003. The first 2 Su-30MKMs were formally handed over in Irkutsk on 23 May 2.007, later arrived in Gong Kedak airbase on 21 June.As part of the contract, Russia sent the first Malaysian cosmonaut to the International Space Station in October 2.007.Malaysia had 12 Su-30MKMs in service with 6 on order in November 2.008.Due to past issues with aircraft support, Malaysia was to purchase spare parts from China.

Russian Air Force received 5 Su-30s in 1.994-1.996. It operates 9 Su-30s, including 4 Su-30M2s delivered in 2.011.The Russian Air force is to receive 10 more Su-30M2s in 2.012.Another 30 Su-30SMs were ordered with options for 12 more; deliveries are to be completed by 2.015.

Ugandan Air Force has ordered 6 Su-30MK2,[35] and received two on 8 July 2.011.The aircraft order cost is estimated at $740 million (Shs1.8 trillion).

Venezuelan Air Force and the government of Venezuela on 14 June 2.006, announced the purchase of 24 units of the Su-30MK2 aircraft. The first two Su-30MK2s arrived in the first week of December 2.006 while another 8 were commissioned during 2.007, fourteen more units have arrived in 2008 with the last 4 being delivered in August.

Has 24 Su-30MK2s in service as of early 2.009. A second batch of 12 Su-30MKV is also being considered.

Vietnam People's Air Force operates 4 Su-30MK2s as of January 2.010.Vietnam reportedly signed a contract was for 12 more Su-30MK2s in 2.009, but the contract was reduced to 8 fighters. On 20 July 2.010, it was announced at Farnborough International Airshow that a contract for 20 Su-30MK2s had been signed with Vietnam.

Specifications (Su-27PU/Su-30)

Data from KNAAPO Su-30MK page, Sukhoi Su-30MK page, Gordon and Davison.
General characteristics : Crew: 2
Length: 21.935 m (72.97 ft)
Wingspan: 14.7 m (48.2 ft)
Height: 6.36 m (20.85 ft)
Wing area: 62.0 m2 (667 ft2)
Empty weight: 17,700  kg (39,021 lb)
Loaded weight: 24,900 kg (54,900 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 34,500 kg (76,060 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × AL-31FL low-bypass turbofans
Dry thrust: 7,600 kgf (74.5 kN, 16,750 lbf) each
Thrust with afterburner: 12,500 kgf (122.58 kN, 27,560 lbf) each


Maximum speed: Mach 2.0 (2,120 km/h, 1,320 mph)
Range: 3,000 km (1,620 nmi) at altitude
Service ceiling: 17,300 m (56,800 ft)
Rate of climb: 230 m/s (45,275 ft/min)
Wing loading: 401 kg/m2 (82.3 lb/ft2)
Thrust/weight: 0.98


The Su-27PU had 8 hardpoints for its weapon load, whereas the Su-30MK's combat load is mounted on 12 hardpoints: 2 wingtip AAM launch rails, 3 pylons under each wing, 1 pylon under each engine nacelle, and 2 pylons in tandem in the "arch" between the engines. All versions can carry up to 8 tonnes of external stores.
Guns: 1 × GSh-30-1 gun (30 mm calibre, 150 rounds)
AAMs: 6 × R-27ER1 (AA-10C), 2 × R-27ET1 (AA-10D), 6 × R-73E (AA-11), 6 × R-77 RVV-AE (AA-12)
ASMs: 6 × Kh-31P/Kh-31A anti-radar missiles, 6 × Kh-29T/L laser guided missiles, 2 × Kh-59ME
Aerial bombs: 6 × KAB 500KR, 3 × KAB-1500KR, 8 × FAB-500T, 28 × OFAB-250-270, nuclear bombs

Sukhoi Su-33

Role : Carrier-based air defence fighter
National origin Soviet Union / Russia
Manufacturer : Sukhoi / KnAAPO
First flight : 17 August 1.987
Introduction : 31 August 1.998 (official)
Status : Operational
Primary user : Russian Naval Aviation
Number built : 24 (approx.)
Developed from : Sukhoi Su-27

The Sukhoi Su-33 (Russian: Сухой Су-33; NATO reporting name: Flanker-D) is an all-weather carrier-based air defence fighter designed by Sukhoi and manufactured by KnAAPO. It is a derivative of the Su-27 "Flanker" and was initially known as the Su-27K.

First used in operations in 1.995 aboard the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov,[N 1] the fighter officially entered service in August 1.998, by which time the designation "Su-33" was used. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent downsizing of the Russian Navy, only 24 aircraft were produced. Attempted sales to China and India fell through.

Compared with the Su-27, the Su-33 has a strengthened undercarriage and structure, folding wings, and stabilators, all for carrier operations.

The wings are larger than on land-based aircraft for increased lift. The Su-33 has upgraded engines and a twin nose wheel, and is air refuelable.

The aircraft's range and payload are greater than those of the rival MiG-29K, but the Mikoyan fighter has more advanced avionics and is capable of a wider range of missions, including strike operations. In 2.009, the Russian Navy ordered the MiG-29K as a replacement for the Su-33.


Background and origins

During the 1.970s, the Yakovlev Yak-38, then the Soviet Navy's only operational carrier based fixed wing aircraft fighter, was found to be unable to undertake its role due to limited range and payload, which severely hampered the capability of the Soviet Navy's Project 1143 carriers.

It was decided to develop a bigger and more potent carrier capable of operating STOL aircraft. During the assessment period, a number of carriers were studied; the Project 1160 carrier would have been able to operate the MiG-23s and Su-24s, but was abandoned due to budget constraints.

Design efforts were then concentrated on the Project 1153 carrier, which would have accommodated the Su-25s and the proposed MiG-23Ks and Su-27Ks.

Sufficient funding was not secured, and the Navy looked at the possibility of a fifth, and larger, Project 1143 carrier, modified to allow for Yak-141, MiG-29K and Su-27K operations.

To prepare for the operations of the Su-27K and the rival MiG-29K on-board the new carrier, work proceeded on the development of the steam catapult, arresting gear, optical and radio landing systems. The pilots were trained at a new establishment in Crimea, named NITKA, for Aviation Research and Training Complex.

In 1.981, the Soviet government ordered the abandonment of the catapult system as part of an overall downsize of Project 1143.5 carriers, which also included cancelling the fifth Project 1143 carrier and the Varyag.

A takeoff ramp was installed at the complex, where takeoffs would be executed to ensure that the MiG29Ks and Su-27Ks would be able to operate from carriers.Both Sukhoi and Mikoyan modified their prototypes to validate the takeoff ramp.

Three Sukhoi T10s (–3, –24 and –25), along with an Su-27UB, were used for takeoffs from the simulated ramp. The first of these tests were undertaken by Nikolai Sadovnikov on 28 August 1.982. Flight tests indicated the need for a change in ramp design, and it was modified to a ski-jump profile.

Conceptual designs of the Su-27K commenced in 1978.On 18 April 1984, the Soviet government instructed Sukhoi to develop an air defence fighter; Mikoyan was ordered to build a lighter multirole fighter.[8] Full-scale design of the Su-27K soon started as the "T-10K" under the guidance of Konstantin Marbyshev. Nikolai Sadovnikov was appointed the design bureau's Chief Test Pilot for the programme.

By November 1.984, conceptual design had passed its critical design review, with the detailed design finalised in 1986. The two prototypes were constructed in conjunction with KnAAPO in 1.986–1.987.


The first Su-27K prototype, piloted by Viktor Pugachyov, made its maiden flight on 17 August 1987 at the NITKA facility; the second followed on 22 December.Flight tests continued at NITKA, where MiG-29Ks and Su-27Ks demonstrated and validated the feasibility of ski-jump operations.

The pilots also practised no-flare landings before making an actual landing on a carrier deck. It was another two years before the Tbilisi, subsequently renamed Admiral Kuznetsov, left the shipyard.

Viktor Pugachyov, piloting the second Su-27K, became the first Russian to conventionally land aboard an aircraft carrier on 1 November 1.989. It was found that the carrier's jet blast deflectors were too close to the engine nozzles when raised at an angle of 60°; thus an improvised solution held the deflectors at 45°.

However, when the aircraft was in front of it for longer than the maximum six seconds, the shield's water pipes exploded. The pilot, Pugachyov, reduced engine throttle, accidentally causing the detents (blocks used to restrain aircraft from accelerating) to retract and the fighter to move forwards.

The aircraft was quickly stopped; Pugachyov later took off without the use of blast deflectors or detents. Since then, a Kamov Ka-27PS search-and-rescue helicopter was flown close to the carrier in the event of an accident.

During the following three-week period, 227 sorties were amassed, along with 35 deck landings. Flight testing continued afterwards, and on 26 September 1.991, naval pilots began testing the Su-27K; by 1.994, it had successfully passed the State Acceptance Trials.

During 1.990–1.991, seven production aircraft were rolled out.

Further developments

The first of two known versions of the Su-33, the twin-seat Su-33KUB, made its first flight in April 1.999. The aircraft, piloted by Viktor Pugachyov and Sergey Melnikov, flew for 40 minutes near Ramenskoye Airport. The Su-33KUB (Korabelny Uchebno-Boevo", or "carrier combat trainer") was planned to be a trainer, but with the potential to fill other roles.

Notable improvements over the Su-33 included a revised forward fuselage and leading edge slats, bigger wings and stabilators.

In 2.010, Sukhoi developed an updated version of the Su-33; flight trials began in October 2.010. This modernised Su-33 was to compete with a potential Chinese indigenous version of the original Su-33, and to encourage orders from the Russian Navy.

Major upgrades to the aircraft included more powerful (132 kN, 29,800 lbf) AL-31-F-M1 engines and a larger weapons carriage; upgrades to the radar and weapons were not possible at the time due to funding constraints.

According to military author Richard Fisher, it has been speculated that further modifications to a new production batch would include a phased-array radar, thrust-vectoring nozzles, and long-range anti-ship missiles.


To adapt the original Su-27 for naval operations, Sukhoi first incorporated a reinforced structure and undercarriage withstand the great stress experienced upon landing, particularly quick descents and non-flare landings (landings where the aircraft does not assume a nose-up attitude prior to touchdown).

The leading edge slats, flaperons and other control surfaces are enlarged to provide increased lift and manoeuvrability at low speeds, although the wingspan remains unchanged.

The wings feature double-slotted flaps and outboard drooping ailerons; in total, the refinements enlarge the wing area by 10–12%.

The wings and stabilators are modified for folding to maximise the number of aircraft the carrier can accommodate and to allow ease of movement on deck.

The aircraft is outfitted with more powerful turbofan engines to increase thrust-to-weight ratio, as well as an in-flight refuelling probe.

The Su-33 sports canards that shorten the take-off distance and improved manoeuvrability, but have required reshaping of the leading edge root extensions (LERX).The rear radome is shortened and reshaped to prevent its striking the deck during high-Alpha (angle of attack) landings.

A Su-33 onboard Admiral Kuznetsov in 1996. U.S. Navy sailors from the USS San Jacinto are visiting the carrier.

Compared with the rival MiG-29K, the Su-33's maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) is 50% higher; fuel capacity is more than double, allowing it to fly 80% further at altitude (or 33% at sea level). 

The MiG-29K can spend as much time as the Su-33 on station by using external fuel tanks, but this limits its ordinance capacity.

The Su-33 can fly at speeds as low as 240 km/h (149 mph), in comparison the MiG-29K needs to maintain a minimum of 250 km/h (155 mph) for effective control.However, the MiG-29K carries more air-to-ground munitions than the Su-33.

The Su-33 is more expensive and physically larger than the MiG-29K, limiting the numbers able to be deployed on an aircraft carrier.

The Su-33 carries guided missiles such as the R-73 (four) and R-27E (six) on twelve hardpoints, supplemented by the 150-round 30 mm GSh-30-1. It can carry an assortment of unguided missiles, bombs and cluster bombs for secondary air-to-ground missions.

The aircraft can be used in both night and day operations at sea. The radar used, "Slot Back", has been speculated to have poor multi-target tracking, making the Su-33 reliant on other radar platforms and airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft like the Kamov Ka-31 early-warning helicopter.[20] The R-27EM missiles have the capability to intercept anti-ship missiles. The infra-red search and track (IRST) system is placed to provide better downward visibility.

Operational history

Soviet Union and Russia

The Su-27K entered service in the mid-1990s. From December 1.995 to March 1.996, the Admiral Kuznetsov set sail in the Mediterranean Sea, carrying two Su-25UTGs, nine Ka-27s, and 13 Su-27Ks.

However, the aircraft officially entered service 31 August 1.998 with the 279th Naval Fighter Regiment of the Northern Fleet based at Severomorsk-3, by which time it was officially designated the "Su-33".The Russian Navy currently operates 19 Su-33s, however in the long term these need to be replaced.

With the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Russian Navy was dramatically downsized, with many shipbuilding programmes stopped. Had the Varyag, Oryol and Ulyanovsk been commissioned, a total of 72 production airframes would have been built; the early-airborne warning and MiG-29K would also have proceed, instead of being abandoned.

Only 24 examples were built at the time Varyag was sold for scrap. In 2.009, the Russian Navy announced an order for 24 MiG-29Ks to replace the Su-33, to be delivered from 2.011 to 2.015.

Potential operators

Internationally, the People’s Republic of China was identified as a possible export customer. Russia's state weapons exporter, Rosoboronexport, was previously negotiating an order of 50 aircraft totalling US$2.5 billion.China would have initially acquired two aircraft worth $100 million for testing and then have further options to acquire an additional 12–48 aircraft.

The fighters were intended to be used with the fledgling Chinese aircraft carrier programme, with the former Soviet carrier Varyag as the centrepiece.

Sukhoi is working on a more advanced version, the Su-33K, a development to integrate the advanced technologies of the Su-35 fighters into the older Su-33 airframe.

However, worries over other Chinese intentions emerged when it was reported that China had acquired one of the T-10Ks, an Su-33 prototype, from Ukraine, potentially to study and reverse engineer a domestic version. Various aircraft are alleged to have originated partially from the Su-33, such as the Shenyang J-11B and the Shenyang J-15.

India was also viewed as another potential operator of the Su-33. The Indian Navy planned to acquire the Su-33 for the its aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, the refurbished Soviet Admiral Gorshkov, which was sold to India in 2.004. In the end, the rival MiG-29K was opted for, because of the Su-33's outdated avionics.

The size of the Su-33 reportedly led to concerns over potential difficulties in operating it off the Indian carriers, a constraint not shared by the smaller MiG-29K.

Specifications (Su-33)

Data from KnAAPO,[46] Sukhoi,[25][47],[48] Gordon and Davison,Williams

General characteristics

Crew: 1
Length: 21.94 m (72 ft)
Wingspan: 14.70 m (48.25 ft)
Height: 5.93 m (19.5 ft)
Wing area: 62.0 m² (667 ft²)
Empty weight: 18,400 kg (40,600 lb)
Loaded weight: 29,940 kg (66,010 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 33,000 kg (72,752 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × AL-31F afterburning turbofans
Dry thrust: 74.5 kN (16,750 lbf) each
Thrust with afterburner: 125.5 kN (28,214 lbf) each
Wingspan, wings folded: 7.40 m (24.25 ft)


Maximum speed: Mach 2.17 (2,300 km/h, 1,430 mph) at 10,000 m (33,000 ft) altitude
Stall speed: 240 km/h (150 mp/h)
Range: 3,000 km (1,864 mi)
Service ceiling: 17,000 m (55,800 ft)
Rate of climb: 246 m/s (48,500 ft/min)
Wing loading: 483 kg/m²; (98.9 lb/ft²)
Thrust/weight: 0.83
Maximum turn: +8 g[49] (+78 m/s²)
Landing speed: 240 km/h (149 mph)


1 × 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 150 rounds
Up to 6,500 kg (14,300 lb) of munitions on twelve external hardpoints, including:
8 × R-27, or 8 × R-77 and 4 × R-73 air-to-air missile
Various bombs and rockets
Electronic countermeasure (ECM) pods

Su-47 Berkut

Role : Experimental/Technology demonstrator
Manufacturer: Sukhoi
First flight : 25 September 1.997
Introduction : January 2.000
Status : Under development
Primary user : Russian Air Force
Number built : 4 flight testing prototypes

The Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut (Russian: Су-47 Беркут - Golden Eagle) (NATO reporting name Firkin), also designated S-32 and S-37 (not to be confused with the twin-engined delta canard design offered by Sukhoi in the early 1.990s under the designation Su-37) during initial development, was an experimental supersonic jet fighter developed by Sukhoi Aviation Corporation.

A distinguishing feature of the aircraft was its forward-swept wing[2] that gave the aircraft excellent agility and maneuverability.

While serial production of the type never materialized, the sole aircraft produced served as a technology demonstrator prototype for a number of advanced technologies later used in the 4.5 generation fighter SU-35BM and current 5th generation fighter prototype Sukhoi PAK FA.


Originally known as the S-37, Sukhoi redesignated its advanced test aircraft as the Su-47 in 2002. Officially nicknamed Berkut (Golden Eagle), the Su-47 was originally built as Russia's principal testbed for composite materials and sophisticated fly-by-wire control systems.

TsAGI has long been aware of the advantages of forward-swept wings, with research including the development of the Tsibin LL and study of the captured Junkers Ju 287 in the 1.940s.

Forward-swept wings yield a higher maximum lift coefficient, reduced bending moments, and delayed stall when compared to more traditional wing shapes. At high angles of attack, the wing tips remain unstalled allowing the aircraft to retain aileron control.

Conversely, forward sweep geometrically creates increased angle of incidence of the outer wing sections when the wing bends under load. This creates more lift, more load, more angle of incidence, etc.

This leads to a tendency for the wings to fail structurally at lower speeds than for a straight or aft-swept wing. Forward swept wings counter this by being designed to twist downward as they bend upward. This twisting-as-it-bends is done with composite materials on the S-37, but it can also be done, to an extent, with conventional materials.

The project was launched in 1.983 on order from the Soviet Air Force. But when the USSR dissolved, funding was frozen and development continued only through funding by Sukhoi. Like its US counterpart, the Grumman X-29, the Su-47 was primarily a technology demonstrator for future Russian fighters; however, Sukhoi briefly attempted to market the Su-47 to the Russian military and foreign customers as a production fighter in its own right.


The Su-47 is of similar dimensions to previous large Sukhoi fighters, such as the Su-35. To reduce development costs, the Su-47 borrowed the forward fuselage, vertical tails, and landing gear of the Su-27 family.

Nonetheless, the aircraft includes reduced radar signature features,[citation needed] an internal weapons bay, and space set aside for an advanced radar. Though similar in overall concept to the Grumman X-29 research aircraft of the 1.980s, the Su-47 is larger and far closer to an actual combat aircraft than the US design.

To solve the problem of wing-twisting, the Su-47 makes use of composite materials carefully-tailored to resist twisting while still allowing the wing to bend for improved aerodynamic behavior. Due to its comparatively large wingspan the Su-47 is to be equipped with folding wings in order to fit inside Russian hangars.

Like its immediate predecessor, the Su-37, the Su-47 is of tandem-triple layout, with canards ahead of wings and tailplanes. Interestingly, the Su-47 has two tailbooms of unequal length outboard of the exhaust nozzles.

The shorter boom, on the left-hand side, houses rear-facing radar, while the longer boom houses a brake parachute.


The Su-47 has extremely high agility at subsonic speeds, enabling the aircraft to alter its angle of attack and its flight path very quickly while retaining maneuverability in supersonic flight. The Su-47 has a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 at high altitudes and a 9g capability.

Maximum turn rates, and the upper and lower limits on airspeed for weapon launch, are important criteria in terms of combat superiority. The Su-47 aircraft has very high levels of maneuverability with maintained stability and controllability at extreme angles of attack. Maximum turn rates are important in close combat and also at medium and long range, when the mission may involve engaging consecutive targets in different sectors of the airspace.

A high turn rate of the Su-47 allows the pilot to turn the fighter aircraft quickly towards the next target to initiate the weapon launch. Like most other fighters with fly by wire controls, the Su-47 achieves some of its high maneuverability through relaxed stability.

The swept-forward wing, compared to a swept-back wing of the same area, provides a number of advantages :

higher lift-to-drag ratio
higher capacity in dogfight maneuvers
higher range at subsonic speed
improved stall resistance and anti-spin characteristics
improved stability at high angles of attack
a lower minimum flight speed
a shorter take-off and landing distance


The Su-47s fuselage is oval in cross section and the airframe is constructed mainly of aluminium and titanium alloys and 13% (by weight) of composite materials. The nose radome is slightly flattened at the fore section, and has a horizontal edge to optimise the aircraft's anti-spin characteristics.


The forward-swept midwing gives the unconventional appearance of the Su-47. A substantial part of the lift generated by the forward-swept wing occurs at the inner portion of the wingspan. The lift is not restricted by wingtip stall.

The ailerons - the wing's control surfaces - remain effective at the highest angles of attack, and controllability of the aircraft is retained even in the event of airflow separating from the remainder of the wings' surface.

The wing panels are constructed of nearly 90% composites. 

The forward-swept midwing has a high aspect ratio, which contributes to long-range performance.

The leading-edge root extensions blend smoothly to the wing panels, which are fitted with deflectable slats on the leading edge; flaps and ailerons on the trailing edge.

The all-moving and small-area trapezoidal canards are connected to the leading-edge root extensions.

A downside of such a forward-swept wing design is that it geometrically produces wing twisting as it bends under load, resulting in greater stress on the wing than for a similar straight or aft-swept wing. This requires the wing be designed to twist as it bends - opposite to the geometric twisting.

This is done by the use of composites wing skins laid-up to twist. Despite this, the plane was initially limited to Mach 1.6. Recent engineering modifications have raised this limit, but the new limit has not been specified.

Thrust vectoring

The thrust vectoring (with PFU engine modification) of ±20° at 30°/second in pitch and yaw will greatly support the agility gained by other aspects of the design.


The cockpit's design has focused on maintaining a high degree of comfort for the pilot and also on the pilot being able to control the aircraft in extremely high g-load maneuvers. The aircraft is equipped with a new ejection seat and life support system.

The variable geometry adaptive ejection seat is inclined at an angle of 60°, which reduces the impact of high g forces on the pilot.

The seat allows dogfight and missile avoidance maneuvers with significantly higher g loadings than can normally be tolerable.

The Su-47 pilot uses a side-mounted, low-travel control stick and a tensiometric throttle control. Pilots, however, claim that the cockpit gives them low visibility due to poor design.

This reclined seating arrangement was first used in the American F-16.

Specifications (Su-47)

General characteristics : 

Crew: 1
Length: 22.6 m (74 ft 2 in)
Wingspan: 15.16 m to 16.7 m (49 ft 9 in to 54 ft 9 in)
Height: 6.3 m (20 ft 8 in)
Wing area: 61.87 m² (666 ft²)
Empty weight: 16,375 kg (36,100 lbs)
Loaded weight: 25,000 kg (55,115 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 35,000 kg (77,162 lbs)
Powerplant: 2 × Lyulka AL-37FU(planned) prototypes used 2 Aviadvigatel D-30F6 afterburning, thrust-vectoring (in PFU modification) turbofans
Dry thrust: 83.4 kN (18,700 lbf) each
Thrust with afterburner: 142.2 kN (32,000 lbf) each
Thrust vectoring: ±20° at 30° per second in pitch and yaw


Maximum speed: Mach 1.6 (Achieved in test flights [4]) (1,717 km/h, 1,066 mph)
* At sea level: Mach 1.16 (1,400 km/h, 870 mph[2])
Cruise speed: projected 1,800 km/h on dry thrust, 2650 km/h on full thrust
Range: 3,300 km (2,050 mi)
Service ceiling: 18,000 m (59,050 ft)
Rate of climb: 233 m/s (46,200 ft/min)
Wing loading: 360 kg/m² (79.4 lb/ft²)
Thrust/weight: 1.16 (loaded) / 1.77 (empty)


The Su-47 is an unarmed technology demonstrator. If further developed into a fighter the armament could include the following weapons :
Guns: 1 × 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 150 rounds
Missiles: 14 hardpoints (2 wingtip, 6-8 underwing, 4-6 conformal under the fuselage)
Air-to-air: R-77, R-77PD, R-73, K-74
Air-to-surface: X-29T, X-29L, X-59M, X-31P, X-31A, KAB-500, KAB-1500

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