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Sukhoi Su 27


The Sukhoi Su-27 (Russian: Сухой Су-27) (NATO reporting name: Flanker) is a twin-engine supermanoeuverable fighter aircraft designed bySukhoi. It was intended as a direct competitor for the large United States fourth generation fighters, with 3,530-kilometre (1,910 nmi) range, heavy armament, sophisticated avionics and high manoeuvrability. The Su-27 most often flies air superiority missions, but is able to perform almost all combat operations. Complementing the smaller MiG-29, the Su-27's closest US counterpart is the F-15 Eagle.

There are several related developments of the Su-27 design. The Su-30 is a two-seat, dual-role fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions. The Su-33 ‘Flanker-D’ is a navy fleet defence interceptor for use on aircraft carriers. Further versions include the side-by-side 2-seat Su-34 ‘Fullback’ strike variant and the Su-35 ‘Flanker-E’ improved air defence fighter.



DevelopmentEdit

[edit]BackgroundEdit

In 1969, the Soviet Union learned of the U.S. Air Force's "F-X" program, which resulted in the F-15 Eagle. The Soviet leadership soon realised that the new American fighter would represent a serious technological advantage over existing Soviet fighters. What was needed was a better-balanced fighter with both good agility and sophisticated systems. In response, the Soviet General Staff issued a requirement for a Perspektivnyy Frontovoy Istrebitel (PFI, literally "Prospective Frontline Fighter", roughly "Advanced Frontline Fighter").[1] Specifications were extremely ambitious, calling for long range, good short-field performance (including the ability to use austere runways), excellent agility, Mach 2+ speed, and heavy armament. The aerodynamic design for the new aircraft was largely carried out by TsAGI in collaboration with the Sukhoi design bureau.[1]

When the specification proved too challenging and costly for a single aircraft in the number needed, the PFI specification was split into two: the LPFI (Lyogkyi PFI, Lightweight PFI) and the TPFI(Tyazholyi PFI, Heavy PFI). The LPFI program resulted in the Mikoyan MiG-29, a relatively short-range tactical fighter, while the TPFI program was assigned to Sukhoi OKB, which eventually produced the Su-27 and its various derivatives. The TPFI program is similar to the American F-X program, which resulted in the F-15 Eagle, while the LPFI program is similar to the Lightweight Fighter program, which spawned the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Northrop YF-17, which itself led to the F/A-18 Hornet.

[edit]Design phaseEdit

The Sukhoi design, which was altered progressively to reflect Soviet awareness of the F-15's specifications, emerged as the T-10 (Sukhoi's 10th delta wing design), which first flew on 20 May 1977. The aircraft had a large delta wing, clipped, with two separate podded engines and a twin tail. The ‘tunnel’ between the two engines, as on the F-14 Tomcat, acts both as an additional lifting surface and hides armament from radar. While being developed, it was spotted by a spy satellite at the Zhukovsky flight test center near the town of Ramenskoe, resulting in the temporary codename of 'Ram-K'. It was believed that the Ram-K was being developed in two versions: a swing-wing fighter similar in function to the Grumman F-14 and a two-seat fixed wing interceptor aircraft which in fact turned out to be the unrelated Mikoyan MiG-31.

The T-10 was spotted by Western observers and assigned the NATO reporting name 'Flanker-A'. The development of the T-10 was marked by considerable problems, leading to a fatal crash on 7 May 1978. Extensive redesigns followed, and a heavily revised version, the T-10S, made its first flight on 20 April 1981. This, too, had considerable developmental problems, leading to another fatal crash on 23 December 1981

The production Su-27 (sometimes Su-27S, NATO designation 'Flanker-B') began to enter VVS operational service around 1984, although manufacturing difficulties kept it from appearing in strength until 1986. The Su-27 served with both the V-PVO and Frontal Aviation. In V-PVO service it was primarily an interceptor aircraft, supplanting older aircraft like the Sukhoi Su-15.[citation needed] Although the Su-27 has some capacity to carry air-to-ground weapons, in Frontal Aviation it was primarily tasked with fighting its way past enemy lines to destroy tanker andAWACS aircraft.[citation needed] The Su-27 retains that role in CIS service, with later marks capable of carrying long-range "AWACS killer" missiles such as the Vympel R-37 and, potentially, the Novator K-100 when it enters production.

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