Alexander Velovich/MOSCOW

The Sukhoi Su-33KUB made its first flight at the LII flight test centre at Zhukovsky on 29 April. The aircraft flew for about 40min with Sukhoi test pilots Victor Pougachev and Sergey Melnikov at the controls.

The Su-33KUB ("Korabelny Uchebno-Boevoi", or carrier combat trainer) side-by-side twin-seat naval Flanker variant is designed as a trainer, but is reported to be the basis for a family of multirole naval aircraft for fleet defence, attack, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and possibly early warning radar missions. All will require two crew.

Although the cockpit is similar to that of the Su-27IB strike aircraft, the nose has a circular rather than oval cross section and houses a Phazotron N-014 radar similar to that of the Su-35/37. An infrared search and track sensor is placed ahead of the centre canopy.

Wing span and area are 12% larger than those of the single-seat Su-33, while the foreplanes and tail surfaces are also enlarged. Wing leading- and trailing-edge high-lift devices provide direct lift control. The leading-edge slats have an adaptive fairing which encloses the slot behind the slat to maintain aerodynamic efficiency.

Sukhoi says weight saving measures, including the greater use of composite materials and the removal of the tail fold mechanism, keep the Su-33KUB's weight to about the same as the single-seat aircraft.

The pace of development will be determined by the availability of funds. Sukhoi general designer and general director Mikhail Simonov says private venture funds have been used on the programme.

Top rank Russian naval officers, including the commander-in-chief and the aviation commander, saw the maiden flight.

Source: Flight International