The Sukhoi Su-33 (Russian: ????? ??-33; NATO reporting name: Flanker-D) is an all-weather carrier-based air defence fighter designed by Sukhoi and manufactured by KnAAPO. It is a derivative of the Su-27 'Flanker' and was initially known as the Su-27K. First used in operations in 1995 aboard the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov,[N 1] the fighter officially entered service in August 1998, by which time the designation 'Su-33' was used. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent downsizing of the Russian Navy, only 24 aircraft were produced. Attempted sales to China and India fell through.
Compared with the Su-27, the Su-33 has a strengthened undercarriage and structure, folding wings and stabilators, all for carrier operations. The wings are larger than on land-based aircraft for increased lift. The Su-33 has upgraded engines and a twin nose wheel, and is air refuelable. The aircraft's range and payload are greater than those of the rival MiG-29K, but the Mikoyan fighter has more advanced avionics and is capable of a wider range of missions, including strike operations. In 2009, the Russian Navy ordered the MiG-29K as a replacement for the Su-33.
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