Su-27 Fighter ‘Dwarfs’ Rafale, MiG-29, F-4 Phantom, LCA Tejas; New Image Shows Massive Size Of Flanker

A simple photo of a former Ukrainian Air Force (UAF) Sukhoi Su-27 in a US Air Force museum bears its massive size. The scale is revealed by the angle at which the picture is taken, showing how the Russian-origin fighter dwarfs nearly all the other decommissioned aircraft around it. 

The photo released by the National Museum of the US Air Force (NMUSAF) at Dayton in Ohio is proof of the gigantic size of the fighter, as it is parked around other legacy Soviet and US aircraft in the hangar.

The jet, seen singularly from a close distance during air shows, either flying or parked, does not offer a chance to fully realize the enormous imposing airframe until another aircraft is placed beside it. The Su-27s and Su-30 outsize the other machines by a considerable margin. 

The Su-27 in question is a twin-seater Su-27UB Flanker-C and was acquired by the US a decade ago as a part of a secretive US government Foreign Materials Exploitation (FME) program.

The NMUSAF acquired the plane on September 27 and added it to its Cold War gallery. On October 25, it released an image of the once adversarial fighter alongside other such friendly and enemy aircraft. 

Su-27 Larger Than ‘Friends’ & ‘Foes’ Aircraft

The photograph shows an early Soviet-era MiG-29A to the Su-27’s left; two swing-wing F-111 Aardvark and a Panavia Tornado before it; two F-4 Phantom IIs to the left of the MiG-29; and a MiG-23 Flogger between the Phantoms. The Su-27 is more significant than all the aircraft, except for the larger transport aircraft beside the fighter jets. 

The Su-27 is 72 feet in length, 19 feet in height, and has a wingspan of 48.3 feet. The MiG-29, on the other hand, is 57 feet long and 15 feet tall, with a wingspan of 37 feet. Being a twin-seat jet sometimes causes it to be initially mistaken for a Su-30, but the absence of the front swept-back canards shows the difference. 

The photo was released by the National Museum of the US Air Force on October 25. Credit: X (formerly Twitter)

A report in The Drive said the Su-27UB was acquired nearly a decade ago from Ukraine by private aviation company Pride Aircraft. It was registered in the US Federal Aviation Authority’s (FAA) civil register with number NS132S.

It was subsequently sold further to another unidentified buyer, following which the plane disappeared. It resurfaced only in September when the NMUSAF announced its acquisition for its exhibit. 

Interestingly, Ukraine has long been a source of Soviet-Era military technology for the US, with several MiG-29s ending up in American inventories following the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Other Pictures Show Outsized Su-30

Interestingly, the NMUSAF photo is not the only one that reveals the humongous size of the Sukhoi 27/30 series of fighters. A picture of an Indian Air Force (IAF) Su-30MKI and the LCA Tejas beside each other on the tarmac from 2021 went viral for the same reason. 

In April of that year, a picture clicked from a 90-degree angle showed four aircraft — two LCA Tejas jets diagonally, one behind the other, and a BAE Hawk and a Su-30 beside the LCAs in the front and back, respectively. 

The Sukhoi’s size can be realized as the Tejas and the Hawk appear puny, just long enough to fit between its tip and mid-fuselage. The context and background of the image are not clear. But, various claims trace it to AeroIndia 2021 in Bengaluru in India, Langkawi in Malaysia, or at an unidentified Indian Air Force (IAF) base. 

An IAF Su-30MKI dwarfs the LCA Tejas & the BAE Hawk
Two Su-30MKIs & two Dassault Rafales beside each other.

The Tejas fighter has a length of 43 feet, a height of 14 feet, and a wingspan of 27 feet. Another undated image shows the Su-30 larger than the Dassault Rafale, the IAF’s frontline fighter aircraft today.