Su-27: The Russian Fighter Jet That Almost Crashed into a U.S. Spy Plane

    Robert Farley

    Security,

    A fighter jet like no other. 

    For such a remarkable aircraft, the Su-27 has seen relatively little combat. It has flown combat missions in several theaters across the world, although it has yet to serve in a sustained air superiority campaign. Flankers flew in some of the wars that characterized the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and have constituted the core of Russian airpower in the Wars of Russian Reconsolidation. Indeed, Su-27s have flown on both sides of the spasmodic conflict in Ukraine. Su-27s in Russian service also currently fly in Syria. In foreign service, the Su-27 has flown in the Angolan Civil War and the Ethiopia-Eritrea War, scoring its only air-to-air victories (over Eritrean MiG-29s) in the latter.

    To the West, most of the legendary Soviet aircraft of the Cold War came from the design bureau Mikoyan Gurevitch, which spawned such aircraft as the MiG-15 “Fagot,” MiG-21 “Fishbed,” MiG-25 “Foxbat” and MiG-29 “Fulcrum.” The single best Soviet fighter of the Cold War, however, was Sukhoi’s Su-27 “Flanker.” Intended both to defeat U.S. fighters over central Europe in a NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict and to patrol the airspace of the Soviet Union against U.S. bomber incursions, the Su-27 survived the end of the Cold War to become one of the world’s premier export fighters.

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    Origins

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