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Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Ultimate Warbird?

A pair of Sukhoi SU-27 UB (NATO codename: Flanker C) ex-military jets are currently available from Pride Aircraft in Rockford, Illinois, which is particularly noted for its Aero L-39 jet aircraft sales and support services. Capable of reaching speeds of Mach 1.8 and finished in standard Russian air superiority blue and gray camouflage, the Flankers are likely the most impressive warbirds available on today's aircraft market.

Both aircraft, serial numbers 96310418210 and 96310408027, were originally built in 1990 and 1988 respectively. They were overhauled by the Ukrainian aircraft overhaul facility in 2007-2008, reassembled and test flown before they were shipped to the United States aboard a huge Antonov AN-124 transport aircraft. The aircraft were barely used in their early days and today, they are virtually as-new and are completely demilitarized with all ordnance hardpoints removed. The cockpits are now retrofitted with a full suite of commercial-grade avionics and communications equipment with English labels, while retaining their zero-zero military-type ejection seats. Power is provided by twin Saturn AL-31F turbojet engines with afterburners, producing more than 27,000 pounds of thrust each!

Engine and afterburner tests have recently been completed, with impressive footage on YouTube. All that is required now is the right buyer. Aside from having at least $5 million available to purchase each aircraft, any prospective new owner will likely fit the profile of a high-time commercial pilot with extensive military training, an instrument rating and a serious need for adrenaline.

Pride Aircraft are careful to address security concerns by noting that while the Flankers are indeed extremely high-performance aircraft, they are "Fourth-generation" jet aircraft, which were designed, first flown and deployed during the late 1970s. As such, they no longer constitute "cutting edge" military and aviation technology, having been surpassed by such aircraft as the USAF F-22 Raptor. Nonetheless, one thing is certain - that no other civilian aircraft in the world even come close to offering the performance envelope and "thrill factor" of this pair of Flankers.

The editor wishes to thank Mr. John Morgan of Pride Aircraft Inc. for his assistance with this posting and for permission to use the photographs. Interested parties should contact Pride Aircraft at 815.969.7743 or by e-mail at We will continue to follow this story for sales results as they develop.

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