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View Full Version : Su-27 Flanker - pronounced "S-U" or "Su?"


Velocity
09-19-2017, 02:46 AM
I had always thought the Sukhoi jets, like the Su-27, were pronounced "S-U [first S, then U] Thirty Five," until I saw a video pronouncing it as "Soo Thirty Five."

Which pronunciation is standard in NATO/US/Western circles?

Alessan
09-19-2017, 03:04 AM
If MiGs are always called "Mig" and never "M-I-G", I don't see why it should be any different with the Su planes.

engineer_comp_geek
09-19-2017, 03:50 AM
I've always heard Mig pronounced as a word, but SU and TU pronounced as the individual letters.

I've never heard anyone spell out Mig and I've never heard anyone pronounce Su as "soo" and Tu as "too". Poking around on google though, it looks like some folks do use "soo" and "too" so I guess either is correct, or is at least accepted in some circles.

AK84
09-19-2017, 04:24 AM
If MiGs are always called "Mig" and never "M-I-G", I don't see why it should be any different with the Su planes.

For some reason the convention seems to be to employ NATO reporting names for Tupelov and Sukhoi aircraft, while MiG's get called "MiG-such and such". Like Bear (Tu-95), Backfire (Tu-22) and Blackjack (Tu-160), and "Fitter" (Su-7/22 family), "Fencer" (Su-24) and "Flanker" (Su-27 family). Or they used the full name; "Tupolev", "Sukhoi"

With the Su-30, it seems that its varients get called by their suffiex (which is understandable since they are in many ways seperate planes).
MKI (Indian)
MKK (Chinese)
MKM (Malaysia).

I supposed its since "MiG" (for english speakers at least) sounds dignified while Tu/T-U and Su/S-U sound silly or like someone is having a stroke.

Bullitt
09-19-2017, 05:20 AM
I've always heard Mig pronounced as a word, but SU and TU pronounced as the individual letters.

I've never heard anyone spell out Mig and I've never heard anyone pronounce Su as "soo" and Tu as "too".

Same here. Until now. My brother flew FB-111s and F-16s during the Cold War. Maybe I'll ask him.

dtilque
09-19-2017, 05:58 AM
For some reason the convention seems to be to employ NATO reporting names for Tupelov and Sukhoi aircraft, while MiG's get called "MiG-such and such".

I recall hearing MiG-23/27s being called Floggers and MiG-25 refered to as a Foxbat. People did use those code names, although perhaps less often. But I never ever heard anyone call a MiG-15 a Fagot.

LSLGuy
09-19-2017, 09:08 AM
In my era in USAF the codenames were used for some aircraft or systems and not so much for others.

SAMs and SSMs were generally known by their SA-## or SS-## numbers, not their codenames. Nobody even knew the NATO designators for radars and such; the codename was all we used. We always called a MiG-21 a "Mig-21", never a "Fishbed". But a MiG-23 was a "Flogger" about half the time.

MiG was always pronounced rhyming with "big"
TU was always pronounced "Tee-You".
SU was pronounced either "Ess-You" or "Soo" more or less at random. If there was any pattern at all, I'd WAG it as the older obsolete stuff was more likely to be Ess-You and the newer stuff was more likely to be "Soo".

That was then. Now that the Russians are less closed than the Soviets were we've also got the Russian's own designations for these things. Sometimes we now see/hear their names or identifiers and sometimes we now see/hear the NATO-assigned ones. e.g. In most media coverage the missile that shot down MH17 over eastern Ukraine was a 9K37 Buk, not an SA-11 Gadfly.

Bottom line: the whole thing is a gigantic ball of exceptions pretty well proving the absence of any rules.

Velocity
09-19-2017, 11:56 AM
If MiGs are always called "Mig" and never "M-I-G", I don't see why it should be any different with the Su planes.

I'm guessing that M-I-G would be really laborious with its three syllables after a while, whereas "S-U" is still a tolerable two syllables.



Whoops, found a typo in my OP: I said Su-27 but wrote Thirty Five.

gnoitall
09-19-2017, 12:14 PM
I'm guessing that M-I-G would be really laborious with its three syllables after a while, whereas "S-U" is still a tolerable two syllables.Likewise, aircraft from MIL Helicopters (the Mil Design Bureau) use the "Mi" prefix, and I've always heard it as two separate letters, not "me" or "my". Likewise, "Kamov" is "Kay Ay", not "ka".

I think the consistent informal rule is "two letters, pronounce as letters; three or more, pronounce as a word if possible." (But I'm sure someone will point out an exception.)

Corry El
09-19-2017, 01:47 PM
I had always thought the Sukhoi jets, like the Su-27, were pronounced "S-U [first S, then U] Thirty Five," until I saw a video pronouncing it as "Soo Thirty Five."

Which pronunciation is standard in NATO/US/Western circles?
AFAIK in Russian it's Су='Soo', not the two letters pronounced one at a time. In English I'd have said 'Ess-You' is standard, although I haven't heard a tremendous number and variety of knowledgeable people say it as opposed to having read it, and you could say 'Soo' is more 'authentic'.

gnoitall
09-19-2017, 01:58 PM
AFAIK in Russian it's Су='Soo', not the two letters pronounced one at a time. In English I'd have said 'Ess-You' is standard, although I haven't heard a tremendous number and variety of knowledgeable people say it as opposed to having read it, and you could say 'Soo' is more 'authentic'.Probably. But most of us don't speak Russian. And we old Cold Warriors will point out we were in the fight specifically so we wouldn't have to. :D

So in English, it's "Ess You". Unless it's "Sierra Uniform."

Corry El
09-19-2017, 05:00 PM
Probably. But most of us don't speak Russian. And we old Cold Warriors will point out we were in the fight specifically so we wouldn't have to. :D

So in English, it's "Ess You". Unless it's "Sierra Uniform."

Hmm, I guess maybe that's semi tongue in cheek, but I'm thinking you can't actually say it's wrong to pronounce a recent (not a centuries old borrowing into English) foreign term as it's pronounced in the language it comes from. Like I said, my impression has been that 'Ess You' is standard in English, but OP said they heard 'Soo' in English in a video, and I don't thing we can say that was somebody mispronouncing it.

LSLGuy
09-19-2017, 09:10 PM
As I commented earlier, there's a lot of randomness &B confusion in all this stuff. The fact Russian is written in the utterly different Cyrillic alphabet doesn't help.

"Tu" is an Anglicized shortened form of "Tupolev", a single Russian word / last name. "Su" is an Anglicized shortened form of "Sukhoi", a single Russian word / last name. In official NATO-speak they're written as TU & SU which is already wrong; they're not initialisms.

That USAF common practice chose (chooses?) to always pronounce "TU" as "Tee-you" and never as "Too", but chose (chooses?) to pronounce "SU" as either "Ess-you" or as "Soo" more or less at random says clearly (to me at least) that there is no logical rule: there's simply arbitrary illogical practice.


Do not seek order within chaos: for that way lies madness, Grasshopper.

JHBoom
09-19-2017, 09:19 PM
Yet another data point:
In my Aircraft Recognition classes in both the Marine Corps and the Air Force, Su-xx was always pronounced "Ess You-xx".

Corry El
09-20-2017, 04:38 PM
I'm reminded of a somewhat similar one. The Russian T-34 tank with 85mm main gun has generally been written as T-34/85 in the West. In Russian it's T-34-85. Tank aficionado's have been more likely to adopt the Russian version in recent years, and to even correct people writing 34/85, though that's also 'what I was taught' to most non-Russians who were ever formally taught such stuff. One difference is that because it's written it's more obvious but at the same time doesn't imply a different pronunciation. It is kind of like 'Su' v 'SU' though besides the pronunciation aspect.

Note I'm not saying 'Ess You' is wrong. I write T-34-85 but I don't presume to correct T-34/85 unless somebody argues it's strictly right which it's not. I don't say 'Su-27' out loud very often :). But again I'd say 'Soo' has some arguments on its side, not only being the Russian way on a Russian plane, but the implication of Capital S, small u, or capital 'С', small 'у' in Cyrillic, which would be 'Ess-Oo' as initials, but again capital/small implies it's not initials. All that said let a 1000 flowers bloom. Speaking of which in Chinese (though they have their own designation for those they operate) the original Russian designation is written 蘇-27, unambiguously 'su'.