The Sukhoi Su-27/30 fleet in Russia is now declining in numbers; even if it is set to continue more or less unchanged in the foreseeable future, as Alexander Mladenov explains.
Dubbed by NATO as the Flanker-B/C, the first-generation Su-27s are becoming an increasingly rare sight in Russian service, having been promptly replaced by the Su-35S in most front-line regiments from 2014. The active fleet of both ‘legacy’ and upgraded or newly-built single and two-seat Flankers, operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) and the Russian Naval Aviation (AVMF), currently numbers 140 to 150 aircraft; this figure includes about 70 non-upgraded examples – some 35 single-seaters and no fewer than 35 twin-seaters. Between 2015 and 2021, no fewer than 30 of the first-generation Flankers in Russia were cycled through extensive general overhauls. This provided 500 more flight hours and eight years of service, while others underwent life-extending deep airframe inspections at a lower cost. The service life is currently set at 35 years.