TYPE: Multirole fighter.
PROGRAMME: Su-33 (Su-27K 'Flanker-D') single-seat naval fighter flew 17 August 1987; some 18 built in early 1990s for service aboard Admiral of the Fleet Kuznetsov; no further production.
Need for dedicated trainer for Su-33 became increasingly clear, and development of T10KM-2-based Su-27KUB (korabelnyi uchebno boevoi: as T10KU shipborne fighter trainer) began in late 1990s. Formally acknowledged 21 October 1998. Probably being development as a private venture, with no firm commitment from Russian Navy. Likely to become Su-33UB, following redesignation of carrierborne single-seat Su-27K as Su-33.
Three prototypes, with noses built by KnAAPO, as T10KU-1, -2, and -3, incorporating lessons from the Kuznetsov's 1996 Mediterranean cruise. Construction of T10KU-1 began in 1998 mating a new nose and new wings and tailplanes to an existing T10K prototype (T10K-4). Powered by AL-31F engines, the aircraft first flew on 29 April 1999 and made first arrested landing on dummy deck at NIUTK ('Nitka') test centre, Saki, 3 September 1999; first take-off from deck ramp followed on 6 September; first landing and take-off from carrier Kuznetsov on 6 October 1999. T10KU-2 and -3 reported to be under construction in 1999, perhaps using new-build airframes, but had not been seen by January 2001. T10KU-1 test flown by Indian pilots, September 1999, but Su-27 judged too large for planned carriers. Further test series at Saki begun December 2000.
Any production is likely to be by KnAAPO; baseline variant due to be extrapolated to produce trainer, reconnaissance and AEW versions, the last-mentioned with a phased-array mounted on the spine, between the composites antenna tailfins. Increased thrust, thrust-vectoring AL-31FP, AL-31FM or AL-41F engines mooted for production version.
CURRENT VERSIONS: Su-33UB: As described.
Su-30K-2: Two-seat interceptor version based on Su-33 fuselage under construction at Komsomolsk, late 1999; due to fly late 2000, but no further reports received.
DESIGN FEATURES: Has navalised features of Su-33, including folding wing (with fold further outboard and with a larger fold angle). Some sources suggest that the Su-33UB's tailplanes do not fold, since they reach only as far as the new outboard wing fold. Double slotted flaps, unslotted, 'adaptive' leading-edge, arrest hook, datalink and carrier landing system. However, compared with Su-27IB, forward fuselage is slightly narrower, with seats closer together and has much less pronounced dorsal hump. New 'glass cockpit' with five colour LCD displays (one 53 cm; 21 in diagonally; rest 38 cm; 15 in) with provision for central or sidestick and with helmet-mounted sighting system. Aircraft has OBOGS and OBIGGS and so does not need oxygen or nitrogen bottles. N014 solid-state, phased-array radar, with enhanced air-to-ground and over-water capabilities, planned eventually, but prototypes have ballast or Zhuk-MS and production aircraft may initially use NIIR N610-27 (Zhuk 27); circular-section radomes replace flattened 'platypus' nose associated with Su-27IB. Some reports suggest that the Su-33UB's new wing is 12 per cent larger in span (16 m; 52½ ft) and area (70 m2; 750 sq ft), as are the canards and tailplanes. Production Su-27KUB will feature a higher set, square-section, lengthened tail-sting, possibly mounting rear warning radar; tailcone folds (upwards) to reduce stowed length; prototypes have the standard Su-33 tailcone.