Sukhoi was born in Glubokoye near Vitebsk, a small village in Belarus. He went to school from 1905 to 1914 at the Gomel Gymnasium. In 1915 he went to the Imperial Moscow Technical School (today known as MGTU). After World War I broke out, he was drafted by the army; in 1920 he was demobilized because of health related problems and he went back to the MGTU, graduating in 1925.
In 1925 he wrote his thesis named Chasseur Single-engined aircraft of 300 cv under the direction of Andrei Tupolev. In March 1925 he started working as an engineer/designer with TsAGI (The Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute). During the following years, Sukhoi designed and constructed aircraft of world renown. Examples include the heavy bombers TB-1 and TB-3. In 1932 he was assigned head of engineering and design department in TsAGI and in 1938 he was promoted to head of the department of design.
In September 1939 Sukhoi founded an independent engineering and design department named OKB Sukhoi. Located in Kharkov, Sukhoi was not satisfied with the geographical location of the OKB. The OKB was isolated from the scientific pole of Moscow and insisted that the OKB would relocate to the aerodome of Podmoskovye. The relocation was completed in the first half of 1940. In the winter of 1942 Sukhoi encountered another problem — since he had no production line of its own he had nothing to do. He had developed a new ground-attack plane, the Su-6, but Stalin decided that this plane should not be taken in production, in a favour of Ilyushin Il-2. The reasons for this were that, first: the production of the other planes would slow down and in time of war this was not good, and second, Stalin didn't seem to particularly like Sukhoi.
The aircraft-bombers developed under Sukhoi are the Su-17 and the Su-24. The last fighter Sukhoi designed was the T-10 (Su-27) but he did not live to see it fly. On December 25, 1975 the President of the Academy of Science of the Soviet Union posthumously decorated Sukhoi with the golden medal, in recognition of his deep scientific scholarship.