The Sukhoi Su-27 is a twin-engine super-maneuverable fighter aircraft . It was intended as a direct competitor for the large United States fourth-generation fighters such as the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle, with 3,530-kilometer (1,910 nmi) range, heavy aircraft ordnance, sophisticated avionics and high maneuverability.
The Su-27 was designed for air superiority missions, and subsequent variants are able to perform almost all aerial warfare operations. It was designed with the Mikoyan MiG-29 as its complement.
The Su-27 entered service with the Soviet Air Forces in 1985. The primary role was long range air defence against American SAC B-1B and B-52G/H bombers, protecting the Soviet coast from aircraft carriers and flying long range fighter escort for Soviet heavy bombers such as the Tu-95 “Bear”, Tu-22M “Backfire” and Tu-160 “Blackjack”
The Su-27’s basic design is aerodynamically similar to the MiG-29, but it is substantially larger. The wing blends into the fuselage at the leading edge extensions and is essentially a cross between a swept wing and a cropped delta (the delta wing with tips cropped for missile rails or ECM pods). The fighter is also an example of a tailed delta wing configuration, retaining conventional horizontal tailplanes.
The Su-27 had the Soviet Union’s first operational fly-by-wire control system, based on the Sukhoi OKB’s experience with the T-4 bomber project. Combined with relatively low wing loading and powerful basic flight controls, it makes for an exceptionally agile aircraft, controllable even at very low speeds and high angle of attack.
In airshows the aircraft has demonstrated its maneuverability with a Cobra (Pugachev’s Cobra) or dynamic deceleration – briefly sustained level flight at a 120° angle of attack.
The naval version of the ‘Flanker’, the Su-27K (or Su-33), incorporates canards for additional lift, reducing takeoff distances. These canards have also been incorporated in some Su-30s, the Su-35, and the Su-37.
The Su-27 is equipped with a Phazotron N001 Myech coherent Pulse-Doppler radar with track while scan and look-down/shoot-down capability. The fighter also has an OLS-27 infrared search and track (IRST) system in the nose just forward of the cockpit with an 80–100 km range.
The Su-27 is armed with a single 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 cannon in the starboard wingroot, and has up to 10 hardpoints for missiles and other weapons. Its standard missile armament for air-to-air combat is a mixture of R-73 (AA-11 Archer) and R-27 (AA-10 ‘Alamo’) missiles, the latter including extended range and infrared homing models.