Why Russia Upgrading Su-33 Fighters When China Called It a “Flopping Fish”?

Russia is upgrading some of its Sukhoi Su-33 carrier fighter, specifically, those airframes that have sufficient lifetime remaining, so as to keep them operational until 2025, as per Major General Igor Kozhin, chief for aviation with the Russian Navy.

The Russian Navy was provided with 30 Su-33s before their production was terminated in 1999. Of the 30, 20 have undergone the “first phase” of the modernization at the Sukhoi manufacturing plant in Komsomolsk-upon-Amur, and Aircraft Repair Plant no. 20 in Pushkino.

While the first upgrade consists of satellite-aided navigation, a new radar warning receiver, and the SVP-24-33 computing system for accurate strikes with free-fall bombs, the second upgrade will extend the Su-33’s arsenal through the addition of precision-guided munitions.

The Su-33 was not only “too big” for comfortable mass-operation on Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov carrier but lacked the full range of payload delivery features necessary to fulfill its purpose. Su-33 is the worse conversation of a Su-30 that Indian Navy bought 45 Mig-29k rather than buying Su-33.

It was conceived in the later stages of the Cold War when Soviets planned to counter vast Eurasian frontiers and compete with (North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) carrier strike groups.

The decision to develop a twin-engine, two-seat, multirole fighter aircraft for all-weather, air-to-air, and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions, basically a carrier-based variant of Su-27 Flanker which was rebranded as Su-33, was made in the 1970s.

The aircraft was now designed to accommodate the tighter layouts and smaller runways of aircraft carriers, with practical changes such as a reinforced undercarriage, rugged landing gear, canards, folding wings, noticeably larger wing area, and slightly more powerful AL-31F3 engines.

As per Mark Episkopos, writing for the National Interest, the Su-33 unmistakably remains a sibling of Su-30 fighter, despite haphazard attempts to outfit it with anti-ship missiles.

Despite its own drawbacks, China had bought an unfinished Su-33 prototype from Ukraine to build its only carrier-based fighter, J-15, which was even worse.

China’s copycat Sukhoi fighter is underpowered and has unreliable engines. Plagued by engine issues and other hydro-mechanical problems, the J-15 met four accidents. Chinese CGTN called J-15 a “Flopping Fish”.

While the Western media continues to highlights the failures of Su-30 and its derivatives as being a carrier aircraft due to its size, a video released in 2019 shows the first-ever landing of the Sukhoi Su-27K (Su-33) carrier-based jet fighter on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

The Russian media had stated that the “complex tasks related to construction, durability, aerodynamics, control systems, navigation, weapons” were solved when designing the fighter.

Meanwhile, Admiral Kuznetsov is now burned to ashes when a massive craine fell on to the deck of the Admiral Kuznetsov causing a catastrophic fire onboard PD-50 floating repair pontoons.

Shrinking defense budgets, no hope for exports and not having an aircraft carrier lead to be believed that only 20 Su-33 may be stationed in Crimea and will operate from ashore rather than carrier borne fighters, Russian officials noted.

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