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​It Takes 30 to 60 Minutes and 10 People To Prepare Su-27 For a Sortie: Insights From Pilots and Technicians

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Su-27 landing / Screenshot credit: ArmyTV
Su-27 landing / Screenshot credit: ArmyTV

Any public information about this type of aircraft and its combat operations is scarce, so each insight is valuable, especially when it comes from pilots and maintenance crew themselves

Ukrainian military channel – Army TV, an official media source of Ukraine's defense ministry, has released a video report about the Su-27 fighter aircraft and its operations against the russian invasion forces. The footage shows a Su-27UB from a tactical aviation brigade of the Ukrainian Air Force.

Notably, the shown fighter carries R-27 air-to-air missiles, an indication that even aircraft of the Su-27UB trainer-and-combat type are used for real engagement missions against the russians.

Read more: ​Denmark Will Stop Training Ukrainian Pilots on the F-16 Fighters

Little details are revealed in the video but regardless, this is one of the very few sources of information about the Su-27 and its operations in high-intensity warfare.

Most interesting is the insight from Dmytro, a maintenance technician supervising the preparations of a Su-27 to a sortie. He says, the whole process takes 30 to 60 minutes and 10 personnel, each of whom specializes in a specific subsystem, be it armament, communication systems, etc.

Then, another interesting detail is about the adaptations Su-27s had undergone to carry and launch Western weapons, usually incompatible with Soviet-type aircraft.

"We added, attached, tinkered in a certain way," — that's how Andrii, a Su-27 pilot, vaguely describes the adjustments done to this aircraft, although adds that these fighters can perform a wide range of missions, from intercepting air threats to escorting allied aircraft or delivering strikes onto enemies on the ground, including suppression of enemy air defenses.

Andrii, Su-27 pilot / Defense Express / It Takes 30 to 60 Minutes and 10 People To Prepare Su-27 For a Sortie: Insights From Pilots and Technicians
Andrii, Su-27 pilot / Screenshot credit: ArmyTV

As for the flight performance, Andrii describes the Su-27 as an asset with a "vast yet not unlimited" capacity which even can make up for some mistakes pilots might make during operations.

Expectedly, he was asked to compare Su-27 to an F-16, the first Western-type multirole fighter that is soon expected to arrive in the Ukrainian Air Force. The answer was as follows: the target detection and locking range of F-16 is so wide that any Soviet-type aircraft cannot even compare.

Weapon controls are to the left of the pilot / Defense Express / It Takes 30 to 60 Minutes and 10 People To Prepare Su-27 For a Sortie: Insights From Pilots and Technicians
Weapon controls are to the left of the pilot / Screenshot credit: ArmyTV

As for the prospects of Su-27 to remain relevant in the Ukrainian military, Andrii the pilot said, currently, this aircraft is burdened with so much work and pressure that it would certainly affect its service life. Therefore, he continued, after the war ends, the question will be if modernizing Su-27 in order to make it competitive with modern fighters is worth the effort.

Previously, Defense Express also compared the Su-27 to a JAS 39 Gripen — turns out, which fighter is better depends on very specific conditions. We also covered an interesting detail about the unusual "adjustment" enabling the Ukrainian fighter to fire American AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles: namely, an iPad in the pilot's cockpit.

Su-27 landing on a runway / Defense Express / It Takes 30 to 60 Minutes and 10 People To Prepare Su-27 For a Sortie: Insights From Pilots and Technicians
Su-27 landing on a runway / Screenshot credit: ArmyTV
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