Russia has a sizable “Flanker” family that includes fighter jets from the Su-27, Su-30, Su-33, Su-35, and other series. The similarities between these fighter jets have many military buffs puzzled. What connection do they have with one another? let’s find out.

Su 27 

(The picture above shows the Russian Air Force Su-27sm3 fighter jet: single-seat, single-wheel front landing gear, the first pair of the nose)

The Su-27 “Flanker” is a fourth-generation heavy fighter developed by the Soviet Union. Its model is Su-27s, and its foreign trade model is Su-27SK. Currently, the Russian Air Force is equipped with an improved Su-27sm3 fighter.

In order to further tap the ground and anti-ship potential of the “Flank” fighter platform, as well as against the American F-15 fighter, the Sukhoi Design Bureau developed the Su-30 based on the Su-27ub (Su-27s two-seat trainer).

 A series of fighter-bombers are derived from Su-30sm fighter jets and foreign trade Su-30k, MKM, MKV, MKK, and other models.

Su 27

(The picture above shows the Chinese Air Force Su-30MKK fighter: two-seat, two-wheel nose landing gear, RST on the right, vertical tail horizontal.)

Suppose we want to say the most important difference. In that case, the Su-30 series fighters generally strengthen the body structure, increase the attachment point, and the attachment ability of the heavy load attachment point.

 The fighter’s dead weight and maximum take-off weight have also increased, giving it a multi-role capability. At the same time, the cost is slightly reduced. 

In terms of appearance, the Su-30 series fighters are all two-seat. The front landing gear is changed from the single wheel of the Su-27s to two wheels.

 The IRST sensor is also moved from the center of the Su-27s to the front right. The vertical tail of the Su-27s/UB is chamfered, while the top of the vertical tail of the Su-30 is flat.

Su 27

(The picture above shows the Russian version of the Su-30SM. It can be seen that its tail is obviously extended for a longer period, and the AL-31FP engine can be rotated in a vector manner.)

Later, the Sukhoi Design Bureau found that the three-wing layout significantly improved the aircraft’s aerodynamic efficiency, so the old Su-35 with three wings and the Su-30MKI exported to India were developed.

But at the same time, the increased weight of the aircraft makes the flight controls more complicated.

Therefore, Sukhoi is equipped with the three-dimensional vector nozzle of Su-30MKI for the al-31fp vector thrust engine, so the tail of Su-30MKI and Su-30k/MK is extended, making it easier to identify.

Su 27

(The picture above shows the Su-33, with apparent features and special naval camouflage painting.)

The Su-33 is a carrier-based fighter developed based on Su-27SK. Its fuselage structure has significantly improved the aerodynamic efficiency along with take-off and landing performance.

For example, the canards behind the cockpit of the Su-33, the strengthened two-wheeled front landing gear, the shorter tail vertebrae, and the landing hook at the tail are the most important identifying features, while neither the Su-27 nor the Su-30 have this feature.

The Su-33’s folding mechanism is visible when the wings are unfurled. Therefore, the Su-33 aileron structure differs from Su-27.

Su 27

(The picture above shows the Su-35S fighter jet. The large speed brake has been removed from the back of the aircraft, and the nose has no airspeed tube.)

Sukhoi subverted the old Su-35’s design. It launched the Su-35 “Flanker” fighter, the family’s ultimate model, based on Su-27. However, it’s different from Su-27 and Su-30.

As a first step, the Su-35 eliminated the large-scale rear reducer design of the “Flanker” series, which eliminated a series of extra mechanical and hydraulic devices that increased the body structure and permitted transonic and super-maneuvering capabilities. Loss of weight is the result.

Su 27

(The picture above shows the Su-35S fighter jet)

In addition, the Su-35 has a retractable air receiving probe, which is not available in the Su-27s, while a gun-type atmospheric sensor is added under the Su-35 fairing.

The standard pitot tube is taken out of the head. Compared to the Su-27 and 30, the Su-35 has a different wingtip structure and a vector nozzle engine. After landing, the two engine nozzles of the Su-35 fighter would droop at a different angles, which is an essential exterior feature.

In other words, the most significant modification to the Su-35s is to restore the original conventional aerodynamic layout of the Su-27 family.

To adopt the integrated design of flight propulsion and advanced flight control system, particularly its avionics, and adopt the same design as the Su-57 Comparable fifth-generation fighter technology.

Su 27

(The picture above shows the Su-35S fighter jet)

To sum up, first of all, we can distinguish them from the seats:

  • The Su-27 is a single seat.
  • The Su-30 is a two-seater.
  • The Su-35 is a single seat.

The progression from Su 27 to Su 35 is exemplary, and the performance of fighter jets is becoming progressively advanced; Su 27 is a third-generation semi-fighter, Su 30 is a fourth-generation fighter, and Su 35 is a fourth-generation semi-fighter.

Additionally, their combat priorities are distinct: Su-27 prioritizes air warfare, but Su-30 prioritizes ground attack and includes aerial refueling capabilities, resulting in a much greater range.

The Su-35 is known as the “Super Flanker,” capable of all-weather, super-maneuvering, and multi-role operations. From the air “confrontation” between the Su-35 and the US F-22 stealth fighter not long ago, it can be seen that its combat effectiveness is close to the level of the fifth-generation fighter, which is one of the reasons why my country insists on importing the Su-35.