Sukhoi 15 – Flagon, a true interceptor


The Su-15 (NATO codename of “Flagon”) series of aircraft was designed by the Sukhoi firm as a true interceptor with the sole purpose of defending Soviet airspace NATO bomber incursions during the Cold War. The system was designed for pure interceptor duties of bombers and, as such, was not the most agile of dogfighters. The Flagon would be fielded in quantity throughout the USSR, though none would ever see export service with any one country outside of the Soviet Union.The Su-15 was a twin engine design, featuring powerful Tumansky afterburning turbojets. These powerplants afforded the Flagon great top speed and above average scramble times for interception duties. The identifiable nose cone housed a powerful radar tracking array. A single-seat cockpit was fitted in a bubble-type canopy setting. The fuselage was designed with basic aerodynamic principles in mind, providing the system with an almost pencil-like shape. The twin engines were fed by two squared intakes on either side of the canopy and wings were of a swept-back variety. A single rudder system was mounted atop and between the twin jet exhausts.

The Flagon holds the stained distinction of being responsible for the downing of a civilian Korean Airlines 747 jet liner in 1983. Apparently the civilian craft strayed into Soviet airspace and, after reported warning shots were fires with no response from the 747, the Flagon locked on and fired two air-to-air missiles at the aircraft, destroying it and murdering her 269 passengers and crew.

Beyond that, the Su-15 was a capable craft built for a single purpose and it could accomplish that role well. The system was built in multiple versions that included a two-seat trainer conversion model and other experimental variants. The Su-15 was supplanted in frontline service with the Soviet Union in 1995 with the more capable MiG-31 Foxhound and Su-27 Flanker.



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