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    Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker’s Arrival at USAF National Museum’s Cold War Gallery in 2023: An Enigmatic Journey

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    The U.S. Air Force’s National Museum has enhanced its Cold War Gallery with a mysterious addition—a Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker with a vague history and various owners from Ukraine to private U.S. companies.

    Announced on September 26, 2023, the museum revealed this two-seat trainer variant Su-27UB, once part of the Ukrainian air force and now a relic of a bygone era, has joined the prestigious ranks of historical military aircraft on display.

    Sukhoi Su-27 Flankers ’57 red’, ’30 red’, ’59 red’” by HawkeyeUK – Lest We Forget is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    The Flanker’s journey to the USAF museum is a tale of intrigue. Initially procured by the Ukrainian Government, the aircraft (c/n 96310408027, f/n 05-02, built on March 30, 1988) found its way to the United States not for combat but for a rather unusual mission—oil and gas exploration.

    Sukhoi Su-27SM-3 Flanker ’57 red’” by HawkeyeUK – Lest We Forget is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    A company named Terralliance Technologies later acquired the Su-27s for its oil exploration business, only for the venture to fall through due to financial troubles.

    The aircraft then bounced between various entities, including Pride Aircraft and Tactical Air Support—the latter known for providing private adversary air services to the U.S. military.

    FAA records attest to a certificate of airworthiness issued in December 2009 and another in 2010.

    Sukhoi Su-27UB Belyakov” by Oleg Belyakov is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

    The Flanker, sporting Ukrainian splinter camouflage and at one point registered as N132SU, was later removed from the U.S. register in 2018.

    A Russian SU-27 Flanker aircraft banks away with a RAF Typhoon in the background.

    RAF Typhoons were scrambled on Tuesday 17 June 2014 to intercept multiple Russian aircraft as part of NATO’s ongoing mission to police Baltic airspace.

    The Typhoon aircraft, from 3 (Fighter) Squadron, were launched after four separate groups of aircraft were detected by NATO air defences in international airspace near to the Baltic States.

    Once airborne, the British jets identified the aircraft as a Russian Tupolev Tu22 ‘Backfire’ bomber, four Sukhoi Su27 ‘Flanker’ fighters, one Beriev A50 ‘Mainstay’ early warning aircraft and an Antonov An26 ‘Curl’ transport aircraft who appeared to be carrying out a variety of routine training. The Russian aircraft were monitored by the RAF Typhoons and escorted on their way.

    The Typhoon pilots involved in the operation were Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Mark Long of 29 (Reserve) Squadron (the Typhoon operational training unit) and a French Air Force exchange pilot Commandant Marc-antoine Gerrard who is currently attached to 1(Fighter) Squadron.

    What exactly the Su-27s were used for after Terralliance remains somewhat of a mystery, with speculation suggesting everything from adversary services to being part of the U.S. Air Force’s foreign material exploitation program.

    KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

    During the Cold War, under the covert program Constant Peg, the USAF had secretly acquired Soviet aircraft like the MiG-17, MiG-21, and MiG-23 to test and train against.

    related images you might be interested.

    Sukhoi Su-27SM-3 Flanker ’57 red’” by Support your local Air Museum! (HawkeyeUK) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
    Sukhoi Su-34, Sukhoi Su-24M, Sukhoi Su-27, Sukhoi Su-30, Micoyan&Gurevich MiG-29” by Dmitry Terekhov is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
    MiG-23” by Pavel Vanka is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    Russian Knights Su-27” by ressaure is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Relevant articles:
    USAF reveals ‘recent acquisition’ of Su-27 from Ukraine, Flight Global, Sep 27, 2023
    Su-27 Flanker On Display At The USAF Museum Originally Imported To Be Used For Oil Exploration, The Aviationist, Dec 27, 2023
    Up Close And Personal With The Su-27UB Flanker At The National Museum Of U.S. Air Force, The Aviationist, Nov 29, 2023
    Sukhoi Su-27 Arrives at the National Museum of The United States Air Force, Vintage Aviation News, Oct 2, 2023

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