The Russian Defense Ministry’s Zvezda released a video that shows the historic first-ever landing of the Sukhoi Su-27K (Su-33) carrier-based jet fighter on the Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aircraft cruiser in November 1989.
The TV channel stated that the aircraft’s first landing and take-off were carried out by test pilot Viktor Pugachev. According to the channel, “complex tasks related to construction, durability, aerodynamics, control systems, navigation, weapons” were solved in the fighter’s design.
The Sukhoi Su-33 is an all-weather carrier-based twin-engine air superiority fighter designed by Sukhoi and manufactured by Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association, derived from the Su-27 and initially known as the Su-27K.
Compared with the Su-27, the Su-33 has a strengthened undercarriage and structure, folding wings and stabilators, all for carrier operations. The Su-33 has canards and its wings are larger than the Su-27 for increased lift. The Su-33 has upgraded engines and a twin nose wheel and is air refuelable.
First used in operations in 1995 aboard the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov,[N 1] the fighter officially entered service in August 1998, by which time the designation “Su-33” was used.
Following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent downsizing of the Russian Navy, only 24 aircraft were produced.
Attempted sales to China and India fell through. With plans to retire the Su-33 once they reach the end of their service life, the Russian Navy ordered the MiG-29K as a replacement in 2009.