Sukhoi Su-33

TypeCarrier-based air defence fighter
Country of originSoviet Union /Russia
First flight17 August 1987
Introduced31 August 1998
Numbers built24
Unit costsData is not available
Max speedMaximum 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)

Rate of climb: 325 m/s (48,500 ft/min)
Max rangeRange: 3,000 km (1,864 mi)

Service ceiling: 17,000 m (55,800 ft)
DimensionsLength: 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)
Wingspan, wings folded: 7.40 m (24.25 ft)
WeightEmpty weight: 18,400 kg (40,600 lb)
Loaded weight: 29,940 kg (66,010 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 33,000 kg (72,752 lb)
Powerplant2 × AL-31F afterburning turbofans
Dry thrust: 74.5 kN (16,750 lbf) each
Thrust with afterburner: 125.5 kN (28,214 lbf) each
Armament1 × 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 and 4 × R-73 air-to-air missile
Various bombs and rockets
Electronic countermeasure (ECM) pods

The Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D is an all-weather carrier-based air defence fighter designed by Sukhoi and constructed by KnAAPO. The fighter was built based on the design the Su-27 Flanker and was designated as the Su-27K. The aircraft firstly entered operations onboard the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in 1995. However, it officially entered service in August 1998, the time it used the designation of Su-33.

As a carrier-based fighter, the Su-33 has a stronger undercarriage and structure, folding wings and stabilators and has larger wings when compared to Su-27. The Flanker D also uses upgraded engines and twin nose wheels. The Su-33 has greater range and payload than its rival, the MiG-29K, however the Mikoyan fighter applies more enhanced avionics and is suitable of a greater range of missions, this includes strike operations. In 2009, the Russian Navy ordered the MiG-29K as a substitution for the Su-33.

The Development of Su-33

In the early 1970, the Soviet Union only had one VTOL fighter, the Yakovlev Yak-38. However, the Yak-38 was ineffective to carry out its role because of a limited payload. This badly limited the functionality of the Soviet Navy’s Project 1143 carriers, the Kiev, Minsk, Novorossiysk and Baku. The project had to build a larger and more powerful carrier that perfect for operating STOL aircraft.

While in the examination period, several carriers were learned; the Project 1160 carrier could have been capable of operating the MiG-23s and Su-24s, unfortunately it was left behind as a result of budget constraints. Design works were then focused on the Project 1153 carrier, which would have catered to Su-25s and Su-27Ks and MiG-23Ks. As Satisfactory funding was not properly secured, and the Navy considered the opportunity of the fifth, Project 1143 carrier, which was able to carry out Yak-141, MiG-29K and Su-27K operations.

To get ready for the operations of the Su-27K and theMiG-29K onboard the new carrier, work moved forward on the creation of the arresting gear, optical, radio landing systems and steam catapult. In 1981, the Soviet government removed the catapult system as the Project 1143. 5 carriers were downsized. As a result, the project would use a sky-jump runway. Finally, the first Su-27K prototype had its first flight on 17 August 1987 and it was successful.

The Design of Su-33

As naval operations required, the original Su-27 should be modified by incorporating a strengthened structure and undercarriage to hold up against the very strong stress encountered upon landing, especially quick descents and non-flare landings (landings where the aircraft does not anticipate a nose-up attitude in advance of touchdown). The leading edge slats, flaperons and other control surfaces are made bigger to produce greater lift and manoeuvrability at low speeds, even though the wingspan remains the same.

The wings feature double-slotted flaps and outboard drooping ailerons; as a whole, the refinements increase the size of the wing area by 10–12%. The wings and stabilators are customized for folding to increase the quantity of aircraft the carrier can have capacity for and to enable ease of movement on deck. The aircraft is equipped with more potent turbofan engines to boost thrust-to-weight ratio, along with an in-flight refuelling probe. The Su-33 uses canards that reduce the take-off distance and increased manoeuvrability.

In contrast to the rival MiG-29K, the Su-33 has 50% higher maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) and much greater fuel capacity, enabling the fighter to fly 80% further at altitude (or 33% at sea level). The Su-33 can take flight at speeds as low as 240 km/h (149 mph), while the MiG-29K requires to hold a minimum of 250 km/h (155 mph) to get effective control. Even so, the MiG-29K bears extra air-to-ground munitions than the Su-33. The Su-33 is more costly and physically bigger than the MiG-29K, decreasing the numbers able to be stationed on an aircraft carrier.

The Su-33 bears several guided missiles including four R-73 and six R-27E on twelve hardpoints, armed with the 150-round 30 mm GSh-30-1. It can bring a variety of unguided missiles, bombs and cluster bombs for secondary air-to-ground missions. The aircraft can operate in both night and day operations at sea.

The Sukhoi Su-33 videos

Sukhoi Su-33 Naval Flanker

Sukhoi Su-33 SK

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