MOSCOW: Sukhoi aircraft holding has begun ground and flight trials of the modernized fourth generation Su-33 naval fighter.

Modernization works and trials are being carried out at the KnAAPO aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur under a state defense order [awarded] in 2010.

Su-33 (Su-27K) is a multi-role carrier-based fighter with horizontal takeoff and landing, and aerial refuelling capability. The fighter features folding wings and horizontal tail for hangar storage. It was designed to defend naval ships from airborne attacks.

Production of the first two prototypes of the warplane was completed in 1986-87. The first flight of the Su-27K prototype by the design bureau’s test pilot, V.G. Pugachov, took place on August 17, 1987. In the course of the plane’s flight development tests, on November 1, 1989, he performed the USSR’s first conventional (non-V/STOL) landing on the deck of the USSR Admiral of the Fleet Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. In 1989, the Komsomolsk-on-Amur plant started production of a Su-27K development batch, the first production plane being flight-tested at the plant in February 1990. Official testing of the Su-27K took place in 1991-1994.

In April 1993, the KnAAPO plant delivered the first ship-based fighters to the pilots of the aviation wing of the Russian Northern Fleet to be put into service at the 279th ship-based fighter aircraft regiment (SFAR). By August 1994, the regiment had received as many as 24 production aircraft. In 1993-95, combat pilots of the 279th SFAR gained experience on the aircraft; following that, between December 1995 and March 1996, the USSR Admiral of the Fleet Kuznetsov aircraft carrier put to sea for its maiden long-distance training voyage.

The decree of the President of the Russian Federation of 31st August 1998 put the Su-27K into service under the name “Su-33.”