Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks Military Pay Chart (2024)
Aviation / Aerospace

Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D)

Carrier-Based Air Defense Fighter Aircraft [ 1994 ]

The Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker is the navalized version of the base Su-27 Flanker air superiority fighter.

Authored By: Dan Alex | Last Edited: 04/27/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Sukhoi Su-33 (NATO: "Flanker-D") represents the navalized equivalent of the land-based Russian-produced Sukhoi Su-27 "Flanker" series of air superiority aircraft which itself was developed and produced by the Soviet Union to rival the new American McDonnell Douglas F-15 "Eagle" air superiority mount during the Cold War. The Su-33 initially existed as the Su-27K (from the T-10K prototype) before securing its official designation and first flight was recorded on August 17th, 1987. Operational level service was attained in 1995 though the aircraft was not formally introduced into Russian Naval Aviation service until August 31st, 1998. Su-33s are assigned to the deck of the Admiral Kuznetsov - the only operational Russian Navy aircraft carrier in service (2012). Only 24 Su-33 systems have been produced to date (2012), showcasing the limited power of the modern Russian Navy compared with its land and air force strength. The navalized Mikoyan MiG-29K is set to replace the ship-based Su-33 fleet by 2015.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Navy fell largely behind the West in terms of sea-based aerial firepower. With the VTOL Yakovlev Yak-38 (NATO: "Forger") being the only available mount, thought was given to modernizing the attack wing with a more flexible solution. In conjunction with this new requirement, a new carrier design was also formulized to expand the tactical capabilities of the Soviet Navy. By the late 1970s, the excellent Mikoyan MiG-29 "Fulcrum" and Sukhoi Su-27 "Flanker" air superiority aircraft were both introduced and these became the basis for several navalized versions to follow (as the "MiG-29K" and "Su-27K" respectively). As the Soviet carriers was smaller in overall size when compared to US Navy full-size carriers, a ski ramp was affixed to the launching end of the flight deck. As such, the MiG-29K and Su-27K were appropriately modified for the role.

Outwardly, the Su-33 shares the same smooth contours of the land-based Su-27 series. The aircraft is a single-seat mount powered by twin engines. Wings are high-mounted and well-swept along their leading edges. The cockpit is set to the front of the tubular fuselage and set well-aft of a long nose cone assembly. The pilot is afforded excellent views out of the cockpit thanks to its elevated positioning and lightly-framed canopy. Intakes used to aspirate the twin engine configuration are set well-aft of the cockpit and positioned along the underside of the aircraft. The engines exhaust at the rear through conventional circular exhaust port rings. The Su-33 sports twin vertical tail fins and conventional tailplanes. The undercarriage is fully-retractable and consists of two single-wheeled main legs and a twin-wheeled nose leg. When at rest, the Su-33 maintains a very tall stance, with ample clearing of its underwing ordnance hardpoints.

Key differences with the Su-33 are apparent when compared to the land-based Su-27 series and these have been necessitated by the confines of life at sea aboard space-strapped aircraft carriers. The undercarriage has been properly reinforced for the rigors of flight deck operations and an arrestor hook ensures short landing distances upon recovery. Each main wing assembly and horizontal tailplanes are constructed to fold upwards along the respective mid-points which drastically reduces its storage footprint. The Su-33 has also been given forward canards (small wing assemblies ahead of the main wings) and enlarged moving wing surfaces for improved low-speed stability, useful when taking-off from short runways or attempting to land on a moving runaway. The Su-33 has also been completed with an in-flight refueling probe which critically extends the aircraft's operational range to nearly limitless coverage over war theaters assuming proper maintenance cycles are also met.©MilitaryFactory.com
As an air defense fighter platform, the Su-33 is cleared to carry various Soviet/Russian ordnance for the air-to-air attack role across its twelve external hardpoints. The Su-33 can be outfitted with 8 x Vympel R-27R1/R-27T1 (NATO: AA-10 "Alamo") medium-range missiles, 8 x R-77 (NATO: AA-12 "Adder") medium-range active-radar homing missiles or 4 x R-73E (NATO: AA-11 "Archer") short-range missiles or a mixture of the three to suite most any ranged aerial threat. Not lost on the Russian Navy is close-ranged combat to which the Su-33 is given an internal 30mm GSh-30-1 cannon to which 150 projectiles are stored aboard. The Su-33 can also be given the secondary role of tactical ground attack and is cleared to carry guided/unguided munitions (S-8KOM, S-8OM, S-8BM, S-13T, S-13OT, S-25-OFM-PU), conventional drop bombs (50kg, 100kg, 250kg and 500kg types), the RBK-500 cluster bomb and rocket pods. Additionally, Russian-developed Electronic CounterMeasure (ECM) pods are available to help counter threats from tracking radars. Interestingly, the Su-33 is not designed to accept external fuel tanks instead relying on its probe-and-drogue in-flight refueling capability.

Su-33 avionics consists of a modern fire control system (FCS) centered on a search-and-tracking radar housed in the nose cone assembly. The aircraft is outfitted with an IRST and laser rangefinder as standard and this includes an optical search and tracking station as well as a helmet-mounted target designator system. IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) system interrogator and transponder are also standard while the pilot enjoys a widescreen HUD displaying pertinent information without the need to look down. A Doppler and GPS-based navigation system make up one of the aircraft's vital suites. The countermeasures kit includes an integrated Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), chaff and flare dispenser and an ECM radio jamming transmitter in a pod.

The Su-33 is powered by 2 x NPO Saturn AL-31afterburning turbofan engines developing 16,750lbs of dry thrust each. On afterburn (raw fuel pumped into the engine for short bursts of power and, therefore, speed), the engines output up to 28,200lbs of thrust allowing the airframe to reach speeds of Mach 2.17. Operational range on internal fuel stores is 1,860 miles with a service ceiling of 55,800 feet and rate-of-climb listed at 48,500 feet per minute.

The Su-33 has been developed into two major production variants. The first is the base single-seat Su-33 air defense model. The second is the twin-seat Su-33KUB advanced carrier training mount with combat capabilities as secondary. In the latter variant, the forward fuselage is appropriately redesigned to accept the second cockpit (side-by-side seating) while internal volume is limited. First flight of the Su-33KUB was recorded in April of 1999 and was based on the 10KUB prototype appearing in the mid-1990s. According to Sukhoi material, the Su-33KUB is still in testing and these have been further evolved with thrust-vectoring engine exhaust nozzles and AL-31FP series turbofan engines. A modernized Su-33 - the Su-33K - was planned by incorporating the more advanced technology of the Su-35 "Super Flanker" (NATO: "Flanker-E") program to the existing Su-33 aircraft. However, it does not appear that this program succeeded.

The Su-33 has never been purchased by foreign operators and is therefore only utilized by Russian Naval Aviation. Sukhoi attempted to sell its Su-27 navy derivative to China and India but these initiatives fell to naught - China electing to reverse-engineer the Su-33 as the Shenyang J-11B and India settling on the more advanced MiG-29K. While in operational service with the Russian Navy, the days of the Su-33 are numbered.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Service Year

Russia national flag graphic

In Limited Service.


National flag of Russia Russia
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.

72.2 ft
(22.00 m)
48.2 ft
(14.70 m)
19.7 ft
(6.00 m)
Empty Wgt
36,110 lb
(16,379 kg)
72,753 lb
(33,000 kg)
Wgt Diff
+36,643 lb
(+16,621 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D) production variant)
Installed: 2 x Saturn AL-31F turbofan engines with afterburner developing 28,200 lb of thrust each.
Max Speed
1,553 mph
(2,500 kph | 1,350 kts)
59,055 ft
(18,000 m | 11 mi)
2,287 mi
(3,680 km | 6,815 nm)
60,000 ft/min
(18,288 m/min)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D) production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
1 x 30mm GSh-30-1 internal cannon

Mission-specific armament mounted externally across 12 hardpoints may include any of the following:

R-27 medium-range air-to-air missiles
R-77 medium-range air-to-air missiles
R-73 short-range air-to-air missiles
Guided Munitions
Conventional Drop Bombs
Specialized Mission Equipment (ECM) Pods

Supported Types

Graphical image of an aircraft automatic cannon
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of a medium-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of a long-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 12

Su-27 (Flanker) - Land-based air superiority model from which the Su-33 is derived from.
Su-33 (Flanker-D) - Carrier-Borne Variant; folding wings; arrestor hook; reinforced undercarriage; forward canards for low-level stability; in-flight refueling probe; enlarged wing surfaces.
Su-33KUB - Twin-Seat Trainer Variant with secondary combat functionality; redesigned forward fuselage to incorporate second cockpit; enlarged wing surfaces; first flight in 1999.
Su-33K - Proposed advanced variant incorporating technology from the Su-35 fighter development; never produced.

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Ukranian-Russian War
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft

Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.

Images Gallery

1 / 8
Image of the Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
2 / 8
Image of the Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D)
Image from the United States Department of Defense.
3 / 8
Image of the Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D)
Image from the United States Department of Defense.
4 / 8
Image of the Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D)
Image from the United States Department of Defense.
5 / 8
Image of the Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D)
Image from Sukhoi marketing material.
6 / 8
Image of the Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D)
Image from Sukhoi marketing material.
7 / 8
Image of the Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D)
Image from Sukhoi marketing material.
8 / 8
Image of the Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D)
Image from the United States Department of Defense.

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Chart Military Ranks DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane, and MilitaryRibbons.info, cataloguing military medals and ribbons. Special Interest: RailRoad Junction, the locomotive encyclopedia.

©2023 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2023 (20yrs)