Sukhoi Su-33

Sukhoi Su-33

infobox Aircraft
name =Su-33
type =Multirole fighter
manufacturer =Sukhoi

caption =An Su-33 on board "Admiral Kuznetsov".
designer =
first flight =May 1985
introduction =1994
retired =
status = Operational
primary user =Russian Naval Aviation
more users =
produced =
number built = 24+
unit cost =
developed from = Sukhoi Su-27
variants with their own articles =

The Sukhoi Su-33 (NATO reporting name 'Flanker-D') is a carrier-based multi-role fighter aircraft produced by Russian firm Sukhoi beginning in 1982. It is a derivative of the Su-27 'Flanker' and was initially known as the Su-27K. The main differences from the Su-27 are that the Su-33 can operate from aircraft carriers and is capable of aerial refueling.


The Su-33 first flew in May 1985, and entered service in the Russian Navy in 1994. An air regiment comprising 24 fighters of the type was formed upon the Russian Navy's only operating aircraft carrier, "Admiral Kuznetsov".

During testing, each pilot made 400 landings on a concrete runway matching the size, and shape of the carrier deck, in order to practice no-flare landing technique before making an actual landing on a carrier deck. Despite this, at one point a minor accident occurred during a touch-and-go. During a landing, the wind blew at 45 degrees to the port beam causing the prototype (then called T-10K), piloted by Victor Pugachev, to drift 3 meters off course, nearly causing an accident. As the aircraft cleared the deck, a landing gear oleo struck several struts on the lower hull sponson. The struts buckled but the aircraft was undamaged. The pilots of both the MiG-29K 'Fulcrum-D' and Su-27K had all already seen the struts but did not complain about the placement because they were below flight deck level, their only objection being the turbulence generated by the sponson, which was later fixed.cite book|last=Gordon|first=Y|title=Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker: Air Superiority Fighter|publisher=Airlife Publishing|id=ISBN 1-84037-029-7]

The first actual carrier landing did not pass without incident, as would be hoped. It was discovered that despite the shortening of the fighter, it was still too tall to fit through the hangar door, and special clamps had to be fitted to the landing gear to squeeze it through the hangar.

The next day, it was found prior to takeoff, that when the water cooled jet blast deflectors were set at their normal setting of 60 degrees, they were too close to the engine nozzles. They were ordered to be set at 45 degrees, but the actuator could not hold them in that position. The crew then improvised makeshift braces out of steel pipe to hold the deflector in position. Unfortunately, the welders neglected to clear the metal fragments that resulted from their work, and these fragments pelted observers. Then to make matters worse, the pop-up detents would not retract when ordered, and the prototype sat in front of the shield for 8 seconds longer then the maximum safe time of 6 seconds. This then caused the shield's water pipes to explode, blowing apart the shield. Some observers believed the fighters fuel lines had ruptured and ran, fearing an explosion. Pugachev, who was piloting, was then ordered to throttle back his engines which resulted in the detents retracting, causing the fighter to jerk forward. Pugachev reacted quickly and stood on the brakes and shut off the engines. The fighter was towed to another position and Pugachev took off without using jet blast deflectors, or detents, climbed steeply, performed the Pugachev's Cobra and flew away. From then on, a Kamov Ka-27PS search-and-rescue helicopter was flown close to the carrier in the event of an accident.


Unlike comparable American carrier-borne fighters like the F-14 Tomcat, the Su-33 is designed to use a ski-jump instead of catapult for carrier takeoff. The ski jump provides many advantages over a catapult launch. The most evident is that a ski jump does not put stress on the airframe and pilot, allowing lower weight because less structural reinforcement is required and prevents G-LOC (G-induced loss of consciousness.) Also, with a ski jump launch, the aircraft can engage full afterburner earlier than a catapult launch, because the aircraft is restrained by pop-up detents rather than a catapult shoe. Once in the air the aircraft has a positive AOA as well as pitch angular speed which increases during acceleration, and assists the climb. This method does require an aircraft that is more stable and maneuverable at low speeds. On the down side, an aircraft launched off a ski jump cannot launch at maximum takeoff weight (unless MTOW is very light to begin with, as in the BAe Harrier and its family), so either combat load or range will suffer "vis a vis" a catapulted aircraft. Large aircraft cannot launch off a ski jump at all, restricting a ski jump-equipped carrier to tactical aviation only.

The Su-33 sports canards that shorten the take-off distance and improve maneuverability, but required reshaping of the leading edge extensions. The canards counter pitch-down force generated by leading and trailing edge flaps reducing approach speed by 1.5 times; They also act as destabilizers in supersonic flight, by reducing pitch trim drag. The wing area was also increased, though the span remained unchanged. The wings were fitted with power-assisted folding, and the vertical tails were shortened to allow the fighter to fit in the typically crowded hangars of an aircraft carrier. The rear radome was shortened and reshaped to allow for the tail hook, as well as to save space inside the hangars. The IRST was moved to provide better downward visibility and an L-shaped retractable refuelling probe was fitted to increase range.

The Su-33 carries guided missiles such as the Kh-25MP, Kh-31 and Kh-41. The plane can be used in both night and day operations at sea. It can operate under assistance of the command center ship, or in conjunction with a Kamov Ka-31 (a variant of the Ka-27) early-warning helicopter. The R-27EM missiles provide it the capability to intercept antiship missiles.

Other than air defence, the duties of the Su-33 include destruction of enemy ASW, AWACS, and transport aircraft, anti-shipping strike, support of amphibious landing, escort, reconnaissance, and laying of minefields.


*Russian Naval Aviation



Potential operators

The Kommersant reported on Oct. 23, 2006 [] that the state-run company Rosoboronexport is finishing negotiations with the People's Republic of China to ship up to 50 aircraft totalling US$2.5 billion dollars. China would initially acquire 2 aircraft worth US$100 million dollars for testing and then have further options to acquire an additional 12-48 aircraft. The fighters are intended to be used with the fledgling Chinese aircraft carrier program.

At the sixth Zhuhai Airshow in fall 2006, the first deputy director of the Military Technological Cooperation Bureau of Russian Federation, lieutenant general Aleksander Denisov of the Russian Air Force confirmed at the news conference to the public that China had approached Russia for the possible purchase of Su-33, and negotiation was to start in 2007. The Xinhua News Agency subsequently published the information on its internet military website on the same day on November 1, 2006 and this is the only known official Chinese governmental acknowledgment on this matter, but neither the Russian general nor the Chinese reporters disclosed any information on whether the deal was direct purchase, license assembly or technology transfer, but simply stating that China had planned to "introduce Su-33".Fact|date=April 2007

pecifications (Su-33)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet

ref=KNAAPO Su-33 page, [ [ Sukhoi Su-33] , KNAAPO.] Sukhoi Su-30MK page, [ [ Su-33 Aircraft performance page] , Sukhoi.] Gordon and DavisonGordon and Davison 2006, pp. 92, 95-96.]

span main=14.70 m
span alt= 48.25 ft
length main=21.94 m
length alt=72 ft
height main=5.93 m
height alt=19.5 ft
area main=62.0 m²
area alt=667 ft²
empty weight main=18,400 kg
empty weight alt=40,600 lb
loaded weight main=29,940 kg
loaded weight alt=66,010 lb
max takeoff weight main=33,000 kg
max takeoff weight alt=72,750 lb
more general=Wingspan, wings folded: 7.40 m (24.25 ft)

engine (jet)= AL-31F
type of jet=afterburning turbofans
number of jets=2
thrust main= 7,600 kgf
thrust alt=74.5 kN, 16,750 lbf
thrust original=
afterburning thrust main=12,500 kgf
afterburning thrust alt=122.6 kN, 27,560 lbf

max speed main=Mach 2.17
max speed alt=2,300 km/h, 1,430 mph
max speed more=at 10,000 m (33,000 ft) altitude
stall speed main=240 km/h
stall speed alt=150 mp/h
climb rate main=325 m/s
climb rate alt=64,350 ft/min
ceiling main=17,000 m
ceiling alt=55,800 ft
range main=3,000 km
range alt=1,860 mi

  • Maximum turn: +8 "g" (+78 m/s²)
  • Landing speed: 235-250 km/h (145-155 mph)
    loading main=483 kg/m²;
    loading alt=98.9 lb/ft²

    * 1x 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 150 rounds
    * Up to 6,500 kg (14,300 lb) of munitions on twelve external hardpoints, including:
    ** R-27/R-73 air-to-air missiles
    ** Various bombs and rockets
    ** ECM pods

    ee also

    * Sukhoi Su-27
    * Sukhoi Su-30
    * Sukhoi Su-34
    * Sukhoi Su-35
    * Sukhoi Su-37

    similar aircraft=
    * F-14 Tomcat
    * F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
    * Dassault Rafale

    see also=


    *Gordon, Yefim and Peter Davison. "Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker", Specialty Press, 2006. ISBN 978-1-58007-091-1.
    * [ Su-33 on]

    External links

    * [ SU-33 Sukhoi]
    * [ SU-33 Airforce Technology]
    * [ SU-33 Aerospaceweb]
    * [ 153 shots of Su-33 on]

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