Sukhoi Su-15 (Flagon) Long-Range Interceptor Aircraft
Like many other Cold War-era Soviet interceptors, the Sukhoi Su-15 Flagon was charged with defending Soviet airspace against incursions by Western bombers and spyplanes.
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Like the United States and Britain in the post-World War 2 years, the Soviet Union managed a long history in perfecting turbojet-powered combat aircraft. There were many failures for each singular success and these ran the gamut of fighters, bombers, specialized attack platforms, and interceptors. In the latter, the Sukhoi Su-15 (NATO codename of "Flagon") proved a successful entry. Production totaled 1,290 units with the last operational forms remaining active until 1996 with the Ukrainian Air Force (its only foreign operator).
The primary conventional threat to Soviet air defense of the 1950s became the Boeing B-52 "Stratofortress" - a mammoth jet-powered heavy bomber introduced in early 1955 with the USAF. Flying high and carrying a great warload of bombs, the aircraft proved herself a capable platform and manufacture ultimately netted 744 of the type (the design remains active even today - 2016). At this point in Soviet aviation history, the primary interceptors on hand were the Sukhoi Su-9 and Su-11 which, it was realized by Soviet authorities, did not hold the intercepting capabilities required of them to counter the B-52 threat and others emerging from the United States and Britain.
From the Sukhoi "T-49" prototype arose the" T-58" which relied on an ultra-streamlined form that included swept-back wings and a side-by-side twin-engine configuration. The pilot sat aft of a radar-equipped nosecone with generally good views of the area surrounding his airplane. The twin engines were aspirated by side-mounted intakes and exhausted at the tail through circular ports. The wing mainplanes were set about midships and low-mounted along the fuselage sides.
The prototype achieved first-flight on May 30th, 1962 and this form, following some alterations to make her service-capable, was selected for serial production in February of 1962 carrying the designation of "Su-15". From August 1963 on it was involved in the usual service tests required of Soviet aircraft but the expected production lines Novosibirsk (already committed to the Yakovlev Yak-25) were contested and served to delay entry of the Su-15. As such, its introduction did not take place until 1965 and, once recognized by NATO, it received the codename of "Flagon-A".