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Bear Hunters, Part 3: Collision with Flanker
By Tom Cooper / ACIG.org team
Sep 29, 2003, 12:42

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At 10:39hrs of 13 September 1987 the Norwegian AF P-3B "602" of the No.333 Squadron, from Anöya AB was underway over Barents Sea, flown by Lt. Jan Salvesen and nine crewmembers, when intercepted by a Su-27 of the 941st IAP V-PVO, from Kilip-Yavr AB, flown by Vasiliy Tsymbal.

The Orion was underway at 13.000ft (roughly 4.500m) when the Su-27 did the first close pass: the Norwegians took few photos. After experiencing some problems with keeping his plane in close formation with the slow P-3B, the Soviet fighter disappeared - especially as Lt. Salvesen decelerated in order to signal his dislike for the Flanker coming that close. The Soviet pilot then accelerated away.

Several minutes later, the same Su-27 came back, and again took up a position very close to the P-3B. Lt. Salvesen decreased the speed, signalling the Flanker-pilot to stay away: the Su-27 disappeared again.

Around 10:56hrs, some 135nm E/SE from Vardö (Norway), and 48nm N of the Soviet border, the same Su-27 appeared for the third time, and now under the starboard (right) wing of the P-3B. The Flanker slowly moved closer and closer, Tsymbal obviously intending to once again suddenly accelerate when underneath the Orion. Finally, he did so, but while pulling up, the tip of his fin hit the prop of the Orion's outboard starboard engine, cutting an eleven centimer long piece of it and catapulting it into the fuselage of the reconnaissance aircraft, thus causing a decompression.

The Su-27 "Red 36" approaches from the left side; note the dorsal speed-breake in open position...

The Soviet fighter moves closer....

...and turns to the side, showing the full complement of six R-27R/T missiles...

...to advantage...

In one moment, the young Soviet pilot flew his Su-27 THIS close...

The Su-27 then flew a hard left turn and then disappeared one final time: it returned to the base safely, and has later got a "kill marking" in the form of a P-3-silhouette painted in black on the left side, behind the canopy (it kept this marking also after its bort number was changed from 36 to 38, in the mid-1990s).

The crew of the Orion declared an emergency and dropped down to 10.000ft. None of the crew was injured, and several minutes later two F-16As of the Norwegian Air Force appeared to escort the P-3B safely back to Banak AB.

The damaged engine no. 1 of the P-3B was turned off and the damage on the propeller can be seen.

(All photographs Defense Command Norway, via Flugrevue)

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