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Sukhoi Su-15 (Flagon) Long Range Interceptor (1967)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 6/11/2010

The Su-15 Flagon series was charged with defending Soviet airspace.

The Su-15 (NATO codename of "Flagon") series of aircraft was designed by the Sukhoi firm as a true interceptor with the sole purpose of defending Soviet airspace from NATO bomber incursions during the Cold War. As the system was designed primarily for dedicated interception of bombers, she fielded poor dogfighting qualities. The Flagon would appear in quantity throughout the USSR, though none would ever see export service with any one country outside of the Soviet Union (Ukraine being the only other operator of note).

The Su-15 was a twin-engine design, featuring powerful Tumansky afterburning turbojets buried deep with the slender fuselage. These powerplants afforded the Flagon an excellent maximum speed and above-average scramble times for the interception role. The nose cone housed the required powerful radar tracking system. The single-seat cockpit sat under a bubble-style canopy offering good visibility forward and to the sides. The fuselage was streamlined and left in an unfinished silver color. The engines were aspirated by a pair of retangular intakes mounted to either side of the canopy. Wings were triangular assemblies and swept-back, low-mounted about amidships. A single vertical tail fin was mounted at the extreme rear of the fuslage, between the twin jet exhausts.

A Sukhoi Flagon holds the "stained" distinction of having downed a civilian Korean Airlines 747 jet liner in 1983. As the story goes, the civilian craft strayed into Soviet airspace and, after reported warning shots were fired with no response from the 747 crew, the Flagon locked on and fired two air-to-air missiles at the aircraft resulting in its destruction - along with the murder of some 269 people including crew.

Beyond that, the Su-15 proved a capable aircraft with a single-minded purpose. The system was built in multiple versions that included a two-seat trainer conversion as well as other experimental test platforms. The Su-15 was supplanted in frontline service with the Soviet Union beginning in 1995, replaced with the capable powerful-but-fuel-hungry MiG-31 "Foxhound" interceptor and excellent Su-27 "Flanker" multirole series.

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Specifications for the
Sukhoi Su-15 (Flagon)
Long Range Interceptor

Focus Model: Sukhoi Su-15 (Flagon)
Country of Origin: Soviet Union
Manufacturer: Sukhoi - USSR
Initial Year of Service: 1967
Production Total: 1,500

Crew: 1

Length: 69.98 ft (21.33 m)
Width: 34.55 ft (10.53 m)
Height: 16.73ft (5.10 m)
Weight (Empty): 24,251 lb (11,000 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 39,683 lb (18,000 kg)

Powerplant: 2 x R-13F2-300 Tumansky turbojet engines with afterburn generating 15,873 lbs of thrust.

Maximum Speed: 1,386 mph (2,230 kmh; 1,204 kts)
Maximum Range: 450 miles (725 km)
Service Ceiling: 65,617 ft (20,000 m; 12.4 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 35,000 feet-per-minute (10,668 m/min)

Hardpoints: 6
Armament Suite:
2 x 23mm cannons in gunpods

4 x AA-3 "Anab" AA missiles
2 x AA-8 "Aphid" AA missiles

Su-15 "Flagon-A" - Initial Production Model Designation.

Su-15 "Flagon-D" - First Su-15 produced in quantity; increased wingspan.

Su-15 "Flagon-E" - Improved powerplants; revised larger air intake systems.

Su-15 "Flagon-F" - Definitive Flagon version with larger engines; improved radar system; aerodynamic improvements throughout; improved capabilities.

Soviet Union; Ukraine