The National Museum of the US Air Force continues to increase its repertoire of fighters built in the former USSR and Russia.
The USAF Museum releases three photos without showing its insignia
This Tuesday, the museum announced its most recent acquisition: a fighter Sukhoi Su-27which will be added this fall to its Cold War gallery. The museum has released three photos of this plane, and in none of the images can the insignia of this fighter be seen, which has a large number "32" painted with blue characters on both sides of its nose, next to the front of the cockpit.
A Ukrainian Su-27 sold to a US company in 2009
Although its insignia have not been seen, it has not been difficult to identify this fighter. This aircraft was one of 70 Su-27s operated by the Ukrainian Air Force, a number that had been reduced to less than half before the start of the current Russian invasion on February 24, 2022. The exact number of these aircraft still operational in the Armed Forces of Ukraine is currently unknown, which has resorted to MiG-29 fighters donated by Poland and Slovakia to compensate the losses suffered during the war due to Russian attacks.
It must be said that the fighter that is going to be displayed at the USAF Museum has not been distracted from the Ukrainian war effort. It is a two-seat Su-27UB aircraft, that is, a conversion training aircraft for pilots who are beginning to train with this type of fighter. It was built in 1990 and is completely demilitarized, according to data published by Aircraft.com.
As of December 2019, The Aviation Geek Club published an article pointing out that this aircraft, with construction number 96310408027, was operated by the 831st Aviation Regiment of the Ukrainian Air Force, based in Mirgorod, Poltava Oblast. At that time he wore the number 61, being identified as "61 Blue".
The plane, along with its twin the "66 Blue" (below these lines, in a photo published by Pride Aircraft), was sold to a US company in 2009, being transported from Ukraine aboard an An -124 from Antonov Airlines. Previously, all military and weapons control-related systems were removed, except for the sphere in the front of its cockpit, which houses the IRST/LR aircraft identification system . In the US the two planes retained their Ukrainian camouflage, but their national insignia were removed and they were assigned new tactical numbers: 61 Blue became 32 Blue (with civilian registration N132SU) and the 66 Blue was transformed into 31 Blue (with registration N131SU).
Five years ago its registration was canceled and its trace was lost.
Both planes were operated by Tactical Air Support Inc, a company in Reno, Nevada, that provides training to military pilots with aircraft that play the role of aggressors. The planes were later sold to the company Pride Aviation, of Illinois. These two Su-27s were in the news a lot years ago, for being the first fighters of this type in civilian hands in the US. However, five years ago the trace of these two planes was completely lost. According to Aerialvisuals.ca, in January 2018 the civil registration plates of both. No images of both have been seen again until now.
The possible link of these planes with Area 51
In recent years, various stories have circulated about these two planes, some of which linked them to Russian fighters operated by the US at the Groom Lake test range, Nevada, fighters obtained through former Soviet republics for evaluation. That polygon, popularly known as Area 51, is where Skunk Works (the advanced programs section of Lockheed Martin) has been testing its secret aircraft for decades (among them the famous SR-71) and is also one of the destinations of the mysterious secret airline known as Janet, which I told you about here and which operates from an exclusive terminal at McCarren Airport in Las Vegas.
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