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The Birth of the Su-27 Flanker Family

Issue 102

In 1968, the United States started a new aircraft project called the F-X (Fighter Experimental). The requirements of the F-X project were 40,000 lb. MTOW, a maximum speed of 2.5 Mach, and a high thrust-to-weight ratio. In 1969, McDonnell-Douglas's F-15 was selected. The same year, the Soviet Ministry of Defense prepared the General Operational Requirement for a new aircraft initiating the project, which would be the Soviet's response to the F-15. The new fighter would be single-seated, highly maneuverable (+9.0 max G-load), and has a power-to-weight ratio of 1.1 or better. It would carry medium and short-range air-to-air missiles, a powerful fire control radar, and a 30mm autocannon for close-air combat. Another requirement of the project was for the new aircraft to be the standard fighter of both the Soviet Air Force (Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily–VVS) and Air Defense Forces (Voyska Protivovozdushnaya Oborona–PVO). While the VVS wanted a tactical fighter, the PVO needed an interceptor aircraft. VVS wanted the aircraft to perform Combat Air Patrols away from its home base for an extended time, while PVO wanted it to reach the required altitude and interception zone in the required time. To meet these needs, Sukhoi OKB (Opytnoye Konstruktorskoye Buro - Experimental Design Bureau) launched the T-10 project. 

The T-10 prototype had the following central design features: