‘Father of Su-27′ Simonov: F-15 hater

Mikhail Petrovich Simonov, designer of the iconic Su-27 Flanker, realized after the 1977 first flight that the T-10 prototype was a dog, a fact he explained to the aviation minister in Moscow.

“‘It’s a good thing, Petrovich, that today is not 1937,” the minister replied.

That is one of the incredible anecdotes sprinkled throughout a Simonov feature published today in the London Telegraph. The article is a must read for anyone even slightly curious about aviation history. For example, we learn the lead designer’s delightfully Russian reaction to Simonov’s proposed solution to the T-10′s problem, which involved moving a belly storage compartment onto the top of the fuselage.

“‘Why don’t you, Mikhail Petrovich, go to your wife,” the designer shouted, “and ask her to move her breasts onto her back?! We’ll see how useful she will be then!’”

But the best — and most newsy — part of the feature is about Simonov’s views about the F-15′s performance compared to the Su-27. Simonov is obviously biased, but he makes some interesting points. Simonov described what he believes happened when Russian Su-27s and American F-15s ‘fought’ during a 1990s exercise. 

“The F-15 constantly needed to make a kind of a “step” – fly along a straight line for a certain period of time. The Russian pilots took advantage of that – they persuaded the Americans to go upward, at which point they lost speed, and the Sus, having made a sharp turn, found themselves on the tail of the enemy. A moment later and the target was “destroyed”.” 

Simonov also revealed what he thinks about the Indian’s Su-30MKI’s recent run-ins with American fighters.


Thus, when the Americans learnt that India had acquired the more advanced Su-30s, they decided to pay them a visit. In their exercises they decided to use the improved F-15. The result of the meeting was 6:4 in favour of the Su-30. However, instead of the Su-30MKI, the Indians used the ordinary training Su-30, a machine without the new radar or thrust vector control. The next time Americans arrived in India, they brought the improved F-16.

“This fighter jet is smaller and lighter than our Su-30,” says Simonov. “Thus, logically, it ought to be more manoeuvrable and win in close combat. But everything was exactly the opposite. Su-30MKIs were used. The defeat was unquestionable.”


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10 Responses to ‘Father of Su-27′ Simonov: F-15 hater

  1. Robert 28 October, 2009 at 6:51 pm #

    Simonov is the Russian equivalent of Harry Hillaker.

    OR, more accurately, a blend between Hillaker and John Boyd.

    The aim is clear: push through the red tape to get the design right in the first place and perfect the design overtime as new technologies become available.

    Flaker is the Russian equivalent of Fighting Falcon.

  2. MagicSoccerSpray 29 October, 2009 at 1:16 am #

    I am Shocked…. Shocked! That the Russians think the Flanker is superior to the Eagle.

  3. scaryeagle 29 October, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    What to do? Attack the source? Deny the facts? Say pilots are more important? Say the F22 beats all? We need a mental fix..

  4. Uwe 29 October, 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    Would explain the indian consternation over US bragging
    a year or two ago, wouldn’t it?


  5. Matthew G. Saroff 29 October, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    Actually, it’s not surprising that the Flanker outperforms the F-15 on everything but visibility (the Flanker being an aluminum cloud).

    The Flanker is a more modern design, and has leading edge devices, which the Eagle lacks.

  6. Firefox 30 October, 2009 at 7:55 am #

    Of course Su-27 is superior to F-15A/C, it has always been so. Su-27 came 10 years after F-15, with HMSD, R-73 missiles, IRST, fly-by-wire, high AOA capacity. Su-27 beats F-16 just as easy due to its longer range, sheer speed and radar performance (plus up to 12 A-A missiles). The point is dumb reaction by some “Su-27 can´t be better, because it is Russian”. Political correctnes is mental state of polished lies made to please, but in this case it won´t make planes any better. West needs reality check.

  7. olaf brescia 27 February, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    Flanker needed to be significantly superior to the superb new super-fighters being fielded by NATO, including the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, General Dynamics F-16 and later, the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet. It also needed enormous range to cover the vast expanses of Russian airspace and to replace the Sukhoi Su-15 and Tupolev Tu-28 interceptors.

  8. Thomas Barton, JD 19 April, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    Just re-read this article after a year. Two queries: Do you know what he is talking about when he says the Eagle has to take a step ? Is that an aerodynamic anomaly of the Eagle design or a hiccup in the translation of his thoughts. Also, what would the performance parameters of the Eagle be if the Agile Eagle program had been integrated into the fleet ?

  9. Colin Ellingson 28 September, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    This is all Russian propaganda, Pravda would be proud of this article. No Eastern Bloc aircraft can stand up to BTH ordinance deployed by NATO. In the “test” with India the US agreed to not use BTH missles to test dogfighting, the Indians knew they would never get within 50 miles of an F-15 if we deployed the AAMRAM. The point was to test what would happen if the two planes ever “merged” however this will NEVER happen in modern warfare as the US will simply deploy the AAMRAM and go home with the kill. Even recently in Alaska the British said the same thing with the Eurofighter, no way to defend the BTH missles. It wasn’t until the Eurofighters were allowed into the airspace that they got a kill. Read up on modern BTH missles specifically the AAMRAM and its family, its why we F-15 has NEVER been shot down in a dogfight in its history. Its never happened and never will.

  10. sas 3 November, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    f 15 is gud bt nt grt..scoring kill against less capable fighters doesnt make it grt…if it is best then y it doesnt hav a kill against su 27,30,35…f 15 is a 4+ gen fighter ..and it has kil against only 3 gen fighters..and few older mig 29s..so as su 27 also had kils against mig 29..the real superiority of su30(not the su30 mki.which is.the most advance variant of su 30 series and equalnt to advance su35) was shown at cope india..when it defeated f 15.clearly..when bth fighters come against each other we will get which is betr.

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