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The Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D (initially known as the Su-27K) is a carrier-based twin-engine air superiority fighter, member of a well-known Su-27 Flanker family. Design of Su-27K started in 1978 as part of a broader plan of increasing sea presence of the Soviet Union. First two prototypes were manufactured in 1986/87. Su-27K piloted by the famous Russian test pilot - Victor Pugachev - made it's maiden flight in August 1987 at the NITKA testing / training facility in Crimea. Flanker-D entered service with the Russian Naval Aviation in mid-1990s, while official introduction took place in 1998, already under the new "Su-33" name. Due to end of the cold-war and subsequent downsizing of the Soviet / Russian Navy, only 24 (26 according to other sources) aircraft were produced.
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