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Sukhoi Su-33

Carrier-based air superiority fighter

Su-33

The Sukhoi Su-33 is a shipborne version of the Su-27 air superiority fighter



Entered service 1998
Crew 1 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 21.94 m
Wing span 14.7 m
Height 5.93 m
Weight (empty) 18.4 t
Weight (maximum take off) 33 t
Engines and performance
Engines 2 ◊ AL-31F3 afterburning turbofans
Traction (dry / with afterburning) 74.5 / 125.5 kN
Maximum speed ~ 2 300 km/h
Service ceiling 17 km
Range 3 000 km
Combat radius ?
Armament
Cannon 30-mm cannon with 150 rounds
Missiles 6 x R-27 and 4 x R-73 air-to-air missiles, Kh-31A anti-ship missile
Other various bombs and rockets

 

   The Sukhoi Su-33 was designed primarily for use on the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aviation cruiser. It evolved from the Su-27. Originally the shipborne version was known as Su-27K, but later redesignated to Su-33. The Su-33 is an air-superiority fighter. Western reporting name of the aircraft is Flanker-D. Its production began in 1985 in the Soviet Union. The Su-33 made its maiden flight in 1987, but the official introduction to the Russian Navy was only in 1998. It seems that production was stopped in 1997.

   Production of this aircraft goes slowly. The reason is a high cost and the fact that this Su-33 is carrier-based aircraft. Currently Russian Naval Aviation operates around 24 of these carrier-based aircraft. Considering that Russia has only one aircraft carrier, this quantity seems to be more than enough. Also recently Russian Navy ordered a regiment of shipborne version of the Mikoyan MiG-29 multi-role fighter. It appears that the Russian Navy prefers the lighter MiG-29K to the Su-33 due to its lower price and lower servicing costs. However the MiG-29K is not that capable.

   For a long time Russia was proposing the Su-33 for export and some negotiations are currently in process. China was interested in obtaining a few dozen of Sukhoi Su-33 fighters for their aircraft carrier. A purchase of 50 Sukhoi Su-33 was negotiated for an amount of $2.5 billion in 2006. But eventually these negotiations between the two states fell through. The deal collapsed when it became clear that the Chinese violated the intellectual property agreement and developed their own version of this aircraft, known as the Shenyang J-15.

   In 2004, Russia made a deal to refurbish and upgrade a former Kiev class aircraft carrier and sell it to India, where it is known as Vikramaditya. Russia made them an offer to sell the Sukhoi Su-33 to accompany the vessel. However the Indian Navy decided to purchase Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft instead as they were more compact, thus more suitable to the carrier. As both deals with China and India fell through, Russia is still the sole operator of Sukhoi Su-33.

   Compared to other air-superiority fighters, like Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Su-33 is superior in some areas, including the maximum speed, service ceiling and the rate of climb. Su-33ís two AL-31F3 turbofans generate a dry thrust of 74.5 kN, each while the maximum thrust with afterburner is 125.5 kN for each engine. Top speed is 2 300 km/h at the altitude of 10 kilometers.

   The Su-33 aircraft has not been used in combat. However some of them were lost due to accidents.

  

 
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