In the final instalment of Combat Aircraft’s review of fighter aircraft in Russian service, we start with the navy’s Su-33.
FORCE REPORT // RUSSIAN FIGHTERS
THE CARRIER BASED FIGHTER is dependent upon its ship, and since Russia has only one carrier — which rarely puts out to sea — the fate of the Su-33 is uncertain. Back in the 1980s the Su-33 carrier-based fighter (NATO reporting name ‘Flanker-D’) was considered very important for the Soviets, as they were planning the construction of a fairly large carrier fieet. However, those plans ended with the solitary Admiral Kuznetsov, for which only a small batch of 26 Su-33 fighters was produced during 1993-96, plus nine Su-27K test aircraft. Five of the operational fighters were lost in service; previously, two prototypes had also crashed.