The Sukhoi Su-27 is a one-seat Mach-2 class jet fighter originally manufactured by the Soviet Union, and designed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau.
The Su-27ís basic design is aerodynamically similar to the MiG-29, but it is substantially larger. It is a very large aircraft, and to minimize its weight its structure has a high percentage of titanium (about 30%, more than any of its contemporaries). No composite materials were used. The swept wing blends into the fuselage at the leading edge extensions and is essentially a delta, although the tips are cropped for wingtip missile rails or ECM pods. The Su-27 is not a true delta, however, because it retains conventional tailplanes, with two vertical tailfins outboard of the engines, supplemented by two fold-down ventral fins for additional lateral stability.
The Su-27ís Lyulka AL-31F turbofan engines are widely spaced, both for safety reasons and to ensure uninterrupted airflow through the intakes. The space between the engines also provides additional lift, reducing wing loading. Movable guide vanes in the intakes allow Mach 2+ speeds, and help to maintain engine airflow at high alpha. A mesh screen over each intake prevents debris from being drawn into the engines during take-off.
The Su-27 had the Soviet Unionís first operational fly-by-wire control system. 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 angles of attack. In airshows the aircraft has demonstrated its maneuverability with a Cobra (Pugachevís Cobra) or dynamic deceleration - briefly sustained level flight at a 120į angle of attack.
In addition to its considerable agility, the Su-27 uses its substantial internal volume for a large internal fuel capacity. In an overload configuration for maximum range, it can carry 9,400 kg (20,700 lb) of internal fuel, although its maneuverability with that load is limited, and normal load is 5,270 kg (11,620 lb).
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 Vympel R-73 (AA-11 Archer), Vympel R-27 (AA-10 'Alamo') weapons, the latter including extended range and IR guided models. More advanced Flanker variants (such as Su-30, -35, -37) may also carry Vympel R-77 (AA-12 Adder) missiles.
The Su-27 has a high-contrast tuneable HUD and a helmet-mounted sight capability, which, paired with the R-73 missile and the plane's superb agility make it one of the world's best dogfighter aircraft.
The radar proved to be a major developmental problem for the Su-27. The original Soviet requirement was very ambitious, demanding a multi-target engagement capability and 200 km range against "bombers" (16 m≤ RCS to match a Tu-16). This would greatly exceed the detection range of the F-15ís APG-63 (about 180 km vs a 100 m≤ RCS target) and be broadly comparable to the 1-ton Zaslon phased array radar used on the MiG-31.
The Su-27 has an OLS-27 infrared search and track (IRST) system in the nose just forward of the cockpit with a 80-100km range, which also incorporates a laser rangefinder. This system can be slaved to the radar, or used independently for "stealthy" attacks with infrared missiles (such as the R-73 and R-27T/ET). It also controls the cannon, providing greater accuracy than a radar sighting mode.
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