Sunday, August 31st was the tenth anniversary of military service for the Su-33 (Su-27K) shipborne fighter plane. This one-seater plane was conceived for the role of defending the Soviet Navy's ships from areal attack and was equipped for mid-air refueling as well as a role as a tanker aircraft.
The design work for the Su-27K was carried out by the Sukhoi Construction Bureau, beginning 1971. In the next ten years, three versions of the aircraft were developed for deployment on project 1160 and 1153 aircraft carriers. All three were designed for ski-jump take-off and arrestor cable landing. During the construction stage, all major solutions implemented on the base Su-27 were duplicated on these models, keeping in mind the carrier specifics of the aircraft's application. This included the need for reinforcing the landing gear, installation of the tail hook and folding wings for better utilisation of hangar deck storage space.
The construction of two prototype Su-27K aircraft was competed in 1986-1987. The first flight on a prototype plane was carried out by test pilot Victor Pugachev in August of 1987. During the factory flight and engineering tests of November 1, 1989, he was the first pilot to perform a landing on the deck of aircraft carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov. Beginning 1989, the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Gagarin aviation production plant started producing the first pilot series of the Su-27K fighter. The trials of the first mass produced plane were conducted in February of 1990. The government trials of Su-27K took place between 1991 and 1994.
In April of 1993, the Gagarin plant delivered the first batch of naval fighter planes to the Northern Fleet. These entered service as part of the 279-th naval fighter regiment. By August of 1994, the regiment had 24 production planes. Between 1993 and 1995 the line pilots of the 279 were getting familiar with the plane. Following this, the Admiral Kuznetsov conducted her first long training cruise to the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, between December of 1995 and March of 1996.
By the order of the President of the Russian Federation, the Su-27K was commissioned for service as the Su-33.