Sukhoi Su-27 Russian Fighter
Known to many as “Flanker,” the Sukhoi Su-27 single-seat supersonic interceptor is a fourth-generation Soviet/Russian fighter and has come to be generally recognized as the best Sukhoi fighter of the 1990s and one of the best fighter ever on the world. It was a joint product of the design bureau (OKB) led by Pavel Osipovich Sukhoi, the engine design bureau led by Arkhip Mikhaylovich Lyulka, the State Research Institute of Aircraft Systems (GosNII AS)—and many other research, engineering, and industrial organizations—thereby employing the latest know-how gained by the Soviet aerospace industry.
Excellent performance, handling, and serviceability have made the aircraft popular with its pilots and ground personnel alike. The aircraft has become the progenitor of a whole family of high-performance combat jets, one of which, the Sukhoi Su-27K (Su-33), is the first Soviet aircraft to make a conventional landing on an aircraft carrier.
To answer the inevitable question of the Flanker’s origins, it must be stated that two main factors were responsible for the Su-27’s appearance. The internal factor, so to say, was the Sukhoi OKB’s long-standing tradition as a fighter maker. In the postwar years the company produced three successful interceptors: the Su-9 Fishpot-A/B, the Su-11 Fishpot-C, and the Su-15 Flagon.
The other major factor was the U.S. aerospace industry that had by then produced the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, an excellent shipboard fighter, and was in the middle of a dedicated heavy fighter program. McDonnell Douglas eventually won the contract for the F-15 Eagle. Echoes of that program were naturally heard in the USSR via intelligence channels, and Sukhoi was thinking of a suitable answer.
Lessons learned with third-generation tactical aircraft—the Su-15, Su-17, Su-24, MiG-23, MiG-25, F-5E, F-4, F-111, and Mirage F1—showed that the follow-on should be a dedicated fighter and every effort should be directed at enhancing its counter-air capability. Therefore, it seems quite natural that in late 1969 a small group of engineers in Sukhoi’s preliminary design (PD) section would start working on such a fighter—Best Sukhoi Fighter that was to gain worldwide fame in its definitive shape: The Sukhoi Su-27.