Sukhoi Su-25

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Su-25
Su-25Ub.JPG
A Georgian Su-25UB
Role Close air support
Manufacturer Sukhoi Design Bureau
Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing (former)
First flight 22 February 1975 (T8)
Introduction 19 July 1981
Status In service
Primary users Russian Air Force
Belarusian Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force
North Korean Air Force
See Operators for others
Produced 1978–present
Number built 1,024
Unit cost
US$11 million[1]
Variants Sukhoi Su-28

The Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO reporting name: "Frogfoot") is a single-seat, twin-engine jet aircraft developed in the Soviet Union by the Sukhoi Design Bureau. It was designed to provide close air support for the Soviet Ground Forces. The first prototype made its maiden flight on 22 February 1975. After testing, the aircraft went into series production in 1978 at Tbilisi in the Soviet Republic of Georgia. Russian air and ground forces nicknamed it "Gratch" ("Rook").

Early variants included the Su-25UB two-seat trainer, the Su-25BM for target-towing, and the Su-25K for export customers. Some aircraft are being upgraded to version Su-25SM as of 2012. The Su-25T and the Su-25TM (also known as Su-39) were further developments, not produced in numbers. The Su-25, and the Su-34, were the only armoured fixed-wing aircraft in production in 2007.[1] Su-25 is in service with Russia, other CIS states, and export customers.

The Su-25 has seen combat in several conflicts during its more than 30 years in service. It was heavily involved in the Soviet war in Afghanistan, flying counter-insurgency missions against the Mujahideen. The Iraqi Air Force employed Su-25s against Iran during the 1980–89 Iran–Iraq War. Most were later destroyed or fled to Iran in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Abkhazian separatists used Su-25s during the Abkhazian War. The Macedonian Air Force used Su-25s against Albanian insurgents in the 2001 Macedonia conflict and, in 2008, Georgia and Russia both used Su-25s in the Russo-Georgian War. African states, including the Ivory Coast, Chad, and Sudan have used the Su-25 in local insurgencies and civil wars.

Development

In early 1968, the Soviet Ministry of Defence decided to develop a specialised shturmovik armoured assault aircraft in order to provide close air support for the Soviet Ground Forces. The idea of creating a ground-support aircraft came about after analysing the experience of ground-attack (shturmovaya) aviation during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.[2] The Soviet fighter-bombers in service or under development at this time (Su-7, Su-17, MiG-21 and MiG-23) did not meet the requirements for close air support of the army.[2] They lacked essential armour plating to protect the pilot and vital equipment from ground fire and missile hits, and their high flight speeds made it difficult for the pilot to maintain visual contact with a target. Having taken into account these problems, Pavel Sukhoi and a group of leading specialists in the Sukhoi Design Bureau started preliminary design work in a comparatively short period of time, with the assistance of leading institutes of the Ministry of the Aviation Industry and the Ministry of Defence.[3]

A Russian Air Force Su-25UB. This version is a two-seater intended for both combat and training.

In March 1969, a competition was announced by the Soviet Air Force that called for designs for a new battlefield close-support aircraft. Participants in the competition were the Sukhoi Design Bureau and the Design Bureaus of Yakovlev, Ilyushin and Mikoyan.[4] Sukhoi finalised its "T-8" design in late 1968, and began in work on the first two prototypes (T8-1 and T8-2) in January 1972. The T8-1, the first airframe to be assembled, was completed just before a major national holiday on 9 May 1974. However, it did not make its first flight until 22 February 1975, after a long series of test flights by Vladimir Ilyushin. The Su-25 surpassed its main competitor in the Soviet Air Force competition, the Ilyushin Il-102, and series production was announced by the Ministry of Defence.[5]

During flight-testing phases of the T8-1 and T8-2 prototypes' development, the Sukhoi Design Bureau's management proposed that the series production of the Su-25 should start at Factory No. 31 in Tbilisi, Soviet Republic of Georgia, which at that time was the major manufacturing base for the MiG-21UM "Mongol-B" trainer. After negotiations and completion of all stages of the state trials, the Soviet Ministry of Aircraft Production authorised manufacture of the Su-25 at Tbilisi, allowing series production to start in 1978.[6]

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several Su-25 variants appeared, including modernised versions, and variants for specialised roles. The most significant designs were the Su-25UB dual-seat trainer, the Su-25BM target-towing variant, and the Su-25T for antitank missions. In addition, an Su-25KM prototype was developed by Georgia in co-operation with Israeli company Elbit Systems in 2001, but so far this variant has not achieved much commercial success. As of 2007, the Su-25 was the only armoured aircraft still in production.[1]

The Russian Air Force, which operates the largest number of Su-25s, had planned to upgrade older aircraft to the Su-25SM variant, but funding shortfalls have slowed the progress; by early 2007 only seven aircraft had been modified.[7]

Design

Overview

The Su-25 has a conventional aerodynamic layout with a shoulder-mounted trapezoidal wing and a traditional tailplane and rudder. Several different metals are used in the construction of the airframe: 60% aluminium, 19% steel, 13.5% titanium, 2% magnesium alloy, and 5.5% other materials.[8]

All versions of the Su-25 have a metal cantilever wing, of moderate sweep and high aspect ratio, and equipped with high-lift devices. The wing consists of two cantilever sections attached to a central torsion box, forming a single unit with the fuselage. The air brakes are housed in separate fairings at the tip of each wing. Each wing has five hardpoints for weapons carriage, with the attachment points mounted on load-bearing ribs and spars.[9] Each wing also features a five-section leading edge slat, a two-section flap, and an aileron.

The flaps are mounted by steel sliders and rollers, attached to brackets on the rear spar. The trapezoidal ailerons are located near the wingtips.[10] The fuselage of the Su-25 has an ellipsoidal section and is of semi-monocoque, stressed-skin construction, arranged as a longitudinal load-bearing framework of longerons, beams and stringers, with a transverse load-bearing assembly of frames.[8] The one-piece horizontal tailplane is attached to the load-bearing frame at two mounting points.[10]

Early versions of the Su-25 were equipped with two R95Sh non-afterburning turbojets, in separate compartments on either side of the rear fuselage. The engines, sub-assemblies, and surrounding fuselage structure are cooled by air provided by the cold air intakes located on top of the engine's nacelles. A drainage system collects oil, hydraulic fluid residues, and fuel from the engines after flight or after an unsuccessful start. The engine control systems allows independent operation of each engine.[10] The latest versions (Su-25T and TM) are equipped with improved R-195 engines.[11]

Nose view of the Su-25

The cannon is located in a compartment beneath the cockpit, mounted on a load-bearing beam attached to the cockpit floor and the forward fuselage support structure. The nose is fitted with distinctive twin pitot probes and hinges up for service access.[8]

Cockpit

The pilot flies the aircraft by means of a centre stick and left hand throttles. The pilot sits on a Zvezda K-36 ejection seat (similar to the Sukhoi Su-27), and has standard flight instruments. At the rear of the cockpit is a 6 mm (0.24 in) thick steel headrest, mounted on the rear bulkhead. The cockpit has a bathtub-shaped armoured enclosure of welded titanium sheets, with transit ports located in the walls. Guide rails for the ejection seat are mounted on the rear wall of the cockpit.[8]

The canopy hinges open to the right, and the pilot enters using the flip-down ladder. Once inside, the pilot sits low in the cockpit, protected by the bathtub assembly, which makes for a cramped cockpit. Visibility from the cockpit is limited, being a trade-off for improved pilot protection. Rearwards visibility is very limited, though a periscope is fitted on top of the canopy to compensate.[12]

On the left-hand rear side of the cockpit, a built-in ladder provides access to the cockpit, the upper part of the engine nacelles, and the wing.

Avionics

The base model Su-25 incorporates a number of key avionics systems. It has no TV guidance, but includes a distinctive nose-mounted laser rangefinder, that is hypothesized to provide for laser-based target designation capability.[12][13] A DISS-7 doppler radar is used for navigational purposes; the Su-25 can fly at night, in both visual and instrument meteorological conditions.

The Su-25 often has multiple radios installed for air-to-ground and air-to-air communications, including an SO-69 identification-friend-or-foe (IFF) transponder. The aircraft's self-defence suite includes various measures, such as flare and chaff dispensers capable of launching up to 250 flares and dipole chaff. Hostile radar uses are guarded against via an SPO-15 radar warning receiver.

An airtight avionics compartment is behind the cockpit and in front of the forward fuel tank.

The newer Su-25TM and Su-25SM models have an upgraded avionics and weapons suite, resulting in improved survivability and combat capability.[14]

Operational history

Soviet war in Afghanistan

The first Soviet Air Forces Su-25 unit was the 200th Independent Attack Squadron, initially based at Sitalcay air base in the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The first eleven aircraft arrived at Sitalchay in May 1981.[15]

On 19 July 1981, the 200th Independent Attack Squadron was reassigned to Shindand Airbase in western Afghanistan, becoming the first Su-25 unit deployed to that country. Its main task was to conduct air strikes against mountain military positions and structures controlled by the Afghan rebels.[16] Another Soviet Su-25 unit was the 368th Attack Aviation Regiment, which was formed on 12 July 1984, at Zjovtnevoye in Ukraine.[17] It was soon also moved east to conduct operations over Afghanistan.

Over the course of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Su-25s launched a total of 139 guided missiles of all types against Mujahideen positions. On average, each aircraft performed 360 sorties a year, a total considerably higher than that of any other combat aircraft in Afghanistan. By the end of the war, nearly 50 Su-25s were deployed at Afghan airbases, carrying out a total of 60,000 sorties. Between the first deployment in 1981 and the end of the war in 1989, 21 aircraft were lost in combat operations.[16]

Iran–Iraq War

The Su-25 also saw combat during the Iran–Iraq War of 1980–88. The first Su-25s were commissioned by the Iraqi Air Force in 1987 and performed approximately 900 combat sorties throughout the war, carrying out the bulk of Iraqi air attack missions. During the most intense combat of the war, Iraqi Su-25s performed up to fifteen sorties per day each. In one recorded incident, an Iraqi Su-25 was shot down by an Iranian Hawk surface-to-air missile, but the pilot managed to eject. This was the only confirmed successful Iranian attack against an Iraqi Su-25. After the war, Saddam Hussein decorated all of the Iraqi Air Force's Su-25 pilots with the country's highest military decoration.[16]

Persian Gulf War

An Iraqi Su-25 destroyed during Operation Desert Storm

During the Gulf War of 1991, the air superiority of the coalition forces was so great that the majority of Iraqi Su-25s did not even manage to get airborne. On 25 January 1991, seven Iraqi Air Force Su-25s fled from Iraq and landed in Iran.[18]

On the evening of 6 February 1991, two US Air Force F-15C Eagle fighters of the 53rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, operating out of Al Kharj Air Base in Saudi Arabia, intercepted a pair of Iraqi MiG-21s and a pair of Su-25s. All four Iraqi aircraft were shot down, with both Su-25s coming down in the desert not far from the Iraqi border with Iran. This was the Iraqi Su-25's only air combat of the war.[16]

Abkhazian War

Abkhazian separatists used Su-25s in 1993 against Georgians during the Abkhazian War.[19]

First Chechen War

Main article: First Chechen War

Russian Su-25s were employed during the First Chechen War. Together with other Russian Air Force air assets, they achieved air supremacy for Russian Forces, destroying up to 266 Chechen aircraft on the ground. The Air Force's deployed assets performed around 9,000 air sorties, with around 5,300 being strike sorties during the Chechen campaign between 1994 and 1996. The 4th Russian Air Army had 140 Su-17Ms, Su-24s and Su-25s in the war zone supported by an A-50 AWACS aircraft. The employed munitions were generally unguided bombs and rockets with only 2.3% of the strikes used precision-guided munitions. Russian forces were not able to properly take advantage of the achieved air supremacy due to obsolete air tactics that focused the Air Force on useless tasks in this type of war such as Combat Air Patrols.[20] The Russian air losses were low since no integrated air defense was fielded by the Chechens.[21]

On 4 February 1995, a Russian Su-25 was shot down by ZSU-23-4 Shilka antiaircraft fire over Belgatoi Gekhi, five kilometers southeast of Grozny. The pilot, Maj. Nikolay Bairov, ejected but died impacting the ground as his parachute did not deploy on time. Another Su-25 piloted by Lt. Col. Evgeny Derkulsky was damaged by ground fire on the same day, but managed to land at an air base in Mozdok, where the aircraft was repaired.[citation needed] On 5 May 1995, another Russian Frogfoot was downed near Serzhen-Yurt by 12.7 mm fire while on a low-altitude patrol. The pilot, Col. Vladimir Sarabeyev was killed.[22][23]

On 4 April 1996, another Su-25 fell either to a FIM-92 Stinger missile or to ZSU-23 Shilka fire while either making a reconnaissance flight or attacking the village of Goiskoye. The pilot, Maj. Alexander Matvienko, ejected and was recovered by a friendly helicopter returning to the airbase in Khankala, Grozny.[22][24] On 5 May 1996, a two-seat Su-25UB was downed with an SA-14 MANPADS near the village of Mairtup while on reconnaissance. Both pilots, Col. Igor Sviryidov and Maj. Oleg Isayev, were killed in the crash. It was the fourth Su-25 and fifth Russian aircraft shot down since the start of the war in December 1994.[21][22][25]

Second Chechen War

Russian Air Force Su-25s were extensively used during the Second Chechen War in particular during the first phase when Russian forces were invading the self-proclaimed Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.[26] Up to seven Russian Su-25s were lost,[21] one to hostile fire. On 4 October 1999, a Su-25 was shot down by a MANPADS during a reconnaissance mission over the village of Tolstoy-Yurt killing its pilot. The wings of the aircraft were put on a pedestal in the central square in Grozny.[24][27]

Ethiopian-Eritrean War

Su-25 attack aircraft were used by the Ethiopian Air Force to strike Eritrean targets. On 15 May 2000, An Ethiopian Su-25 was shot down by an Eritrean Air Force MiG-29, killing the pilot.[28]

2001 insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia

Su-25s were used by the Macedonian Air Force during the conflict against Albanian separatists. Beginning on 24 June 2001, the aircraft made multiple attack runs against separatist positions. The most successful operation took place on 10 August 2001, in the village of Raduša, when Su-25s attacked Albanian militants who had ambushed and killed 16 Macedonian soldiers over the previous two days.[29]

War in Darfur

Main article: War in Darfur

Sudan has used Su-25s in attacks on rebel targets and possibly civilians in Darfur.[30]

Ivorian-French clashes

During the Ivorian Civil War, Su-25s were used by government forces to attack rebel targets. On 6 November 2004, at least one Ivorian Sukhoi Su-25 attacked a unit of France's Unicorn peacekeeping forces stationed in Bouaké at 1300, killing nine peacekeepers and a U.S. development worker, and wounding 37 soldiers.[31] Shortly afterwards, the French military retaliated by attacking the air base in Yamoussoukro and destroyed the Ivorian air force, including its two Su-25s.[32][33][34]

2008 Russia–Georgia war

Main article: Russo-Georgian war
A Russian Su-25

In August 2008, Su-25s were used by both Georgia and Russia during the 2008 Russia–Georgia war. Su-25s of the Georgian Air Force participated in providing air support for troops during Battle of Tskhinvali and launched bombing raids on targets in South Ossetia.[35] Russian military Su-25s struck Georgian forces in South Ossetia, and undertook air raids on targets in Georgia.[36] The Russian military officially confirmed the loss of three Su-25 aircraft to the Georgian air defense, though the Moscow Defense Brief suggests four.[37][38] Russia estimates that it destroyed three Georgian Su-25s in the war, none confirmed by Georgia.[37][39] The three Russian aircraft were reportedly downed by Georgian Buk-M1 air defence units.[40] Georgian Su-25s were able to operate at night.[40] In early August 2008, Russian Su-25s attacked the Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing plant, where the Su-25 is produced, dropping bombs on the factory's airfield.[41]

Iran

On 1 November 2012, two Iranian Su-25s fired cannon bursts at a USAF MQ-1 Predator drone 16 nautical miles off the Iranian coast. The Iranian government has claimed that the drone violated its airspace.[42][43][44]

2014 Ukrainian unrest

Ukrainian armed forces deployed fixed wing aircraft over insurgent Eastern regions starting in spring 2014, mostly on a reconnaissance and show of force role.[45] On 26 May 2014, Ukrainian Su-25s supported Mi-24s helicopters during a military operation to regain control over the airport in Donetsk, during which the Su-25s fired air to ground rockets. The airport was recaptured with 30-40 casualties on the separatists' side and no losses on the Ukrainian forces.[46] On 2 July 2014, one Ukrainian Su-25 crashed due to a technical fault.[47][48][49]

On 16 July 2014, an Su-25 was shot down, with Ukrainian officials stating that a Russian MiG-29 shot it down using a R-27T missile.[50] Russia denied these allegations.[51]

On 23 July 2014, two Su-25s were shot down in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. A spokesperson for the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine said the planes were shot down by missiles fired from Russia.[52]

On 29 August 2014, a Ukrainian Su-25 was shot down by pro Russian rebels. The Ukrainian authorities said the downing was due to a Russian missile without clarifying if they mean Russian made or fired by Russian forces. The pilot managed to eject safely. On the same day, pro Russian rebels claimed the downing of up to four Su-25s.[53][54]

2014 Northern Iraq offensive

On 29 June 2014, it was reported that Iraq claimed to have received the first batch of second hand Su-25s ordered from Russia in order to fight Sunni rebels of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. An Iraqi defense ministry source claimed the aircraft would be in service "within three to four days", despite the fact that the Iraqis require technical help and parts to make them operational, and the fact that the Russian made aircraft are incompatible with the Iraqi Air force's inventory of American made Hellfire missiles.[55][56] The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Air Force delivered seven Su-25s on 1 July 2014, the majority of which were ex-Iraqi aircraft from the Gulf War.[57]

Variants

Su-25

Soviet Su-25 in flight

The basic version of the aircraft was produced at Factory 31, at Tbilisi, in the Soviet Republic of Georgia. Between 1978 and 1989, 582 single-seat Su-25s were produced in Georgia, not including aircraft produced under the Su-25K export program. This variant of the aircraft represents the backbone of the Russian Air Force's Su-25 fleet, currently the largest in the world.[6] The aircraft experienced a number of accidents in operational service caused by system failures attributed to salvo firing of weapons. In the wake of these incidents, use of its main armament, the 240 mm S-24 rocket, was prohibited. In its place, the FAB-500 500 kg general-purpose high-explosive bomb became the primary armament.[6]

Su-25K

The basic Su-25 model was used as the basis for a commercial export variant, known as the Su-25K (Komercheskiy). This model was also built at Factory 31 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The aircraft differed from the Soviet Air Force version in certain minor details concerning internal equipment. A total of 180 Su-25K aircraft were built between 1984 and 1989.[6]

Su-25UB

The Su-25UB trainer (Uchebno-Boyevoy) was drawn up in 1977. The first prototype, called "T-8UB-1", was rolled out in July 1985 and its maiden flight was carried out at the Ulan-Ude factory airfield on 12 August of that year.[6] By the end of 1986, 25 Su-25UBs had been produced at Ulan-Ude before the twin-seater completed its State trials and officially cleared for service with the Soviet Air Force.[58][clarification needed]

It was intended for training and evaluation flights of active-duty pilots, and for training pilot cadets at Soviet Air Force flying schools. The performance did not differ substantially from that of the single-seater. The navigation, attack, sighting devices and weapons-control systems of the two-seater enabled it to be used for both routine training and weapons-training missions.[59]

Su-25UBK

Bulgarian Su-25UBK on take-off

From 1986 to 1989, in parallel with the construction of the main Su-25UB combat training variant, the Ulan-Ude plant produced the so-called "commercial" Su-25UBK, intended for export to countries that bought the Su-25K, and with similar modifications to that aircraft.[60]

Su-25UBM

The Su-25UBM is a twin seat variant that can be used as an operational trainer, but also has attack capabilities, and can be used for reconnaissance, target designation and airborne control. Its first flight was on 6 December 2008 and it was certified in December 2010. It will enter operational use with the Russian Air Force later. The variant has a Phazotron NIIR Kopyo radar and Bars-2 equipment on board. Su-25UBM's range is believed to be 1,300 km and it may have protection against infra-red guided missiles (IRGM), a minimal requirement on today's battle fields where IRGMs proliferate.[61]

Su-25UTG

Su-25UTG carrier-based trainer aircraft at Novofedorovka airbase

The Su-25UTG (Uchebno-Trenirovochnyy s Gakom) is a variant of the Su-25UB designed to train pilots in takeoff and landing on a land-based simulated carrier deck, with a sloping ski-jump section and arrester wires. The first one flew in September 1988, and approximately 10 were produced.[62] About half remained in Russian service after 1991; they were used on Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. This small number of aircraft were insufficient to meet the training needs of Russia's carrier air group, so a number of Su-25UBs were converted into Su-25UTGs. These aircraft being distinguished by the alternative designation Su-25UBP (Uchebno-Boyevoy Palubny) —the adjective palubnyy meaning "deck", indicating that these aircraft have a naval function.[63] Approximately 10 of these aircraft are currently operational in the Russian Navy as part of the 279th Naval Aviation Regiment.[64]

Su-25BM

The Su-25BM (Buksirovshchik Misheney) is a target-towing variant of the Su-25 whose development began in 1986. The prototype, designated T-8BM1, successfully flew for the first time on 22 March 1990, at Tbilisi. After completion of the test phase, the aircraft was put into production.[63]

The Su-25BM target-tower was designed to provide towed target facilities for training ground forces and naval personnel in ground-to-air or naval surface-to-air missile systems. It is powered by an R-195 engine and equipped with an RSDN-10 long-range navigation system, an analogue of the Western LORAN system.[63]

Su-25T

The Su-25T (Tankovy) is a dedicated antitank version, which has been combat-tested with notable success in Chechnya.[14] The variant was converted to one-seater, with the rear seat replaced by additional avionics.[65] It has all-weather and night attack capability. In addition to the full arsenal of weapons of the standard Su-25, the Su-25T can employ the KAB-500Kr TV-guided bomb and the semi-active laser-guided Kh-25ML.[14] Its enlarged nosecone houses the Shkval optical TV and aiming system with the Prichal laser rangefinder and target designator. It can also carry Vikhr laser-guided, tube-launched missiles, which is its main antitank armament. For night operations, the low-light TV Merkuriy pod system can be carried under the fuselage. Three Su-25Ts prototypes were built in 1983–86 and 8 production aircraft were built in 1990.[66] With the introduction of a definitive Russian Air Force Su-25 upgrade programme, in the form of Stroyevoy Modernizirovannyi, the Su-25T programme was officially canceled in 2000.[67]

Su-25TM (Su-39)

Russian Su-25TM has been built in small numbers. Carries (from tip to fuselage) R-73, R-77, 8×Vikhr, Kh-29T, Kh-58. White dome of Kopyo radar container is seen below, while two Omul ECM pods lie beside the aircraft.

A second-generation Su-25T, the Su-25TM (also designated Su-39), has been developed with improved navigation and attack systems, and better survivability. While retaining the built-in Shkval of Su-25T, it may carry Kopyo (rus. "Spear") radar in the container under fuselage, which is used for engaging air targets (with RVV-AE/R-77 missiles) as well as ships (with Kh-31 and Kh-35 antiship missiles). The Russian Air Force has received 8 aircraft as of 2008.[65] Some of the improved avionics systems designed for T and TM variants have been included in the Su-25SM, an interim upgrade of the operational Russian Air Force Su-25, for improved survivability and combat capability.[14] The Su-25TM, as an all-inclusive upgrade programme has been replaced with the "affordable" Su-25SM programme.[67]

Su-25SM

A Sukhoi Su-25SM at the Celebration of the 100th anniversary of Russian Air Force

The Su-25SM (Stroyevoy Modernizirovannyi) is an "affordable" upgrade programme for the Su-25, conceived by the Russian Air Force (RuAF) in 2000. The programme stems from the attempted Su-25T and Su-25TM upgrades, which were evaluated and labeled as over-sophisticated and expensive. The SM upgrade incorporates avionics enhancements and airframe refurbishment to extend the Frogfoot's service life by up to 500 flight hours or 5 years.[67]

The Su-25SM's all-new PRnK-25SM "Bars" navigation/attack suite is built around the BTsVM-90 digital computer system, originally planned for the Su-25TM upgrade programme. Navigation and attack precision provided by the new suite is three times better of the baseline Su-25 and is reported to be within 15 m (49 ft) using satellite correction and 200 m (660 ft) without it.[67]

A new KA1-1-01 Head-Up Display (HUD) was added providing, among other things, double the field of view of the original ASP-17BTs-8 electro-optical sight. Other systems and components incorporated during the upgrade include a Multi-Function Display (MFD), RSBN-85 Short Range Aid to Navigation (SHORAN), ARK-35-1 Automatic Direction Finder (ADF), A-737-01 GPS/GLONASS Receiver, Karat-B-25 Flight Data Recorder (FDR), Berkut-1 Video Recording System (VRS), Banker-2 UHF/VHF communication radio, SO-96 Transponder and a L150 "Pastel" Radar Warning Receiver (RWR).[67]

The R-95Sh engines have been overhauled and modified with an anti-surge system installed. The system is designed to improve the resistance of the engine to ingested powders and gases during gun and rocket salvo firing.[67]

The combination of reconditioned and new equipment, with increased automation and self-test capability has allowed for a reduction of pre- and post-flight maintenance by some 25 to 30%. Overall weight savings are around 300 kg (660 lb).[67]

Su-25SM weapon suite has been expanded with the addition of the Vympel R-73 highly agile air-to-air missile (albeit without helmet mounted cuing and only the traditional longitudinal seeker mode) and the S-13T 130 mm rockets (carried in five-round B-13 pods) with blast-fragmentation and armour-piercing warheads. Further, the Kh-25ML and Kh-29L Weapon Employment Profiles have been significantly improved, permitting some complex missile launch scenarios to be executed, such as: firing two consecutive missiles on two different targets in a single attack pass. The GSh-30-2 cannon (250 round magazine) has received three new reduced rate-of-fire modes: 750, 375 and 188 Rounds per Minute. The Su-25SM was also given new BD3-25 under-wing pylons.[67]

The eventual procurement programme is expected to include between 100 and 130 kits, covering 60 to 70 percent of the RuAF active single-seat fleet, as operated in the early 2000s.[67] By 2020, 80 aircraft are to be modernised to SM version.[68] By March 2013, over 60 aircraft are to be upgraded.[68][69][70] In February 2013, ten new Su-25SMs were delivered to the Air Force southern base,[71][72] where operational training is being conducted.[73]

Su-25KM

The Su-25KM (Kommercheskiy Modernizirovannyy), nicknamed "Scorpion", is an Su-25 upgrade programme announced in early 2001 by the original manufacturer, Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing in Georgia, in partnership with Elbit Systems of Israel. The prototype aircraft made its maiden flight on 18 April 2001 at Tbilisi in full Georgian Air Force markings.[74]

The aircraft uses a standard Su-25 airframe, enhanced with advanced avionics including a glass cockpit, digital map generator, helmet-mounted display, computerised weapons system, complete mission pre-plan capability, and fully redundant backup modes. Performance enhancements include a highly accurate navigation system, pinpoint weapon delivery systems, all-weather and day/night performance, NATO compatibility, state-of-the art safety and survivability features, and advanced onboard debriefing capabilities complying with international requirements.[74] It has the ability to use Mark 82 and Mark 83 laser-guided bombs and air-to-air missiles, the short-range Vympel R-73.[75]

Su-28

Sukhoi Su-28 non-combat jet trainer

The Sukhoi Su-28 (also designated Su-25UTUchebno-Trenirovochnyy) is an advanced basic jet trainer, built on the basis of the Su-25UB as a private initiative by the Sukhoi Design Bureau. The Su-28 is a light aircraft designed to replace the Czechoslovak Aero L-39 Albatros. Unlike the basic Su-25UB, it lacks a weapons-control system, built-in cannon, weapons hardpoints, and engine armour.[76]

Other

  • Su-25R (Razvedchik) – a tactical reconnaissance variant designed in 1978, but never built.[77]
  • Su-25U3 (Uchebnyy 3-myestny) – also known as the "Russian Troika", was a three-seat basic trainer aircraft. The project was suspended in 1991 due to lack of funding.[77]
  • Su-25U (Uchebnyy) – a trainer variant of Su-25s produced in Georgia between 1996 and 1998. Three aircraft were built in total, all for the Georgian Air Force.[77]
  • Su-25M1 – modernized by Ukrainian Air Force, one built, few more are ordered.[78]
  • Su-25UBM1 – modernized by Ukrainian Air Force.[78]

Operators

Military operators of the Su-25:
  Current operator
  Former operator
Belarusian Air Force Su-25
Kazakhstan Air Force Su-25
Macedonian Air Force Sukhoi Su-25
Peruvian Air Force Su-25
Russian Air Force Su-25SM
Sudan Air Force Sukhoi Su-25
Ukrainian Su-25UB
 Angola
People's Air and Air Defence Force of Angola. An agreement was reached at the beginning of 1988 between the Soviet Union and Angola that arranged for the delivery of a squadron of Su-25s. The Angolan export agreement comprised 12 single-seat Su-25Ks and two Su-25UBKs trainers. Later, these aircraft were augmented by further deliveries comprising at least three two-seater aircraft.[79]
 Armenia
Armenian Air Force. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, Armenia had no Su-25s in its inventory, but following the start of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1991–92, the newly independent Republic of Armenia unofficially acquired a small number of aircraft, including one new Su-25K that was stolen from the Georgian Air Force on 15 November 1993 by Georgian Captain Sergey Zhitnikov and flown to Armenia.[80] It operates 5 Su-25, 9 Su-25K and 1 Su-25UBK as of January 2009.[81]
 Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan Air Force. Like Armenia, Azerbaijan did not inherit any Su-25s after the collapse of the USSR, but a single aircraft was obtained in April 1992 as a consequence of a pilot defecting from the Russian Air Force base at Sital-Chai. Following the incident, Azerbaijan acquired at least five Su-25s through unofficial channels, and one more aircraft has been obtained as the result of yet another defection, this time from the Georgian Air Force. Other aircraft are believed to have been acquired later, as a 2001 inventory of Azerbaijan aircraft revealed that the Azerbaijan Air Force had three of the type in its inventory, after the reported loss of four Su-25s in combat operations relating to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.[79]
 Belarus
Belarus Air Force. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Belarus was the second member state of the CIS, after Russia, to have a significant number of Su-25s. Seventy Su-25s and six Su-25UBs are reported to be operational and are mostly concentrated at Lida air base by 2004.[82]
 Bulgaria
Bulgarian Air Force. Bulgaria was the second Warsaw Pact country to obtain the Su-25, acquiring its first examples of both Su-25K and the Su-25UBK in 1985. The aircraft were intended to replace the obsolete MiG-17F Fresco-C which had been the backbone of the Bulgarian Air Force fighter-bomber fleet for many years. Twenty Su-25Ks and three Su-25UBKs were commissioned and were operational at Bezmer Air Base by 2004.[82][83][84][85]
 Chad
Chadian Air Force acquired a total of six aircraft (4 Su-25 and 2 Su-25UB) from Ukraine in 2008.[86]
 Democratic Republic of the Congo
Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In late 1999, the Tbilisi Aerospace Manufacturing plant signed a contract with the Democratic Republic of Congo for the delivery of 10 Su-25Ks to the Force Aerienne Congolaise. The deal was reported to be valued at 6 million US Dollars, and the first four aircraft were delivered on board an An-124 in November 1999. The remaining six aircraft were delivered in January 2000.[82] One aircraft crashed in December 2006 during a routine flight, while another one crashed on 30 June 2007, during a Congolese independence day display.[87]
 Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakian Air Force. Passed aircraft on to successor states, in the ratio of 2:1 in favour of the Czech Republic.[82]
Czech Air Force Sukhoi Su-25K ground attack aircraft at Royal International Air Tattoo 1992
 Czech Republic
Czech Air Force. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic acquired twenty-four Su-25Ks and one Su-25UBK. In December 2000, the Czech Su-25s were retired from service and placed in storage at Přerov air base.[88]
 Equatorial Guinea
In 2005, 4 Su 25s including 2 Su-25UB combat trainers were delivered to the Equatorial Guinea Air Corps. The current status of the aircraft is unknown.[89]
 Ethiopia
Ethiopian Air Force. A pair of Su-25Ts and two Su-25UBK combat trainers were delivered to Ethiopia in the first quarter of 2000. The twin-seaters were withdrawn from Russian Air Force service and modified in accordance to a special request by the Ethiopian Air Force. Since acquiring the aircraft, the Ethiopians have used them in combat operations against Eritrean insurgent groups.[82]
 Georgia
Georgian Air Force. Georgia, home to the Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing which produced scores of single-seat Su-25s during the Soviet era, was left with virtually no aircraft following the break-up of the Soviet Union. Only a small number of single-seat Su-25s were actually brought into inventory of the newly formed Georgian Air Force (now army air force), these aircraft having been left in the factory at the time of Georgian independence. Georgia had nine Su-25s of various types with of them eight Su-25KM "Scorpion"s (an upgraded version of the Su-25 in collaboration with Israel) as of 2004.[90]
 Gambia
Gambian Army – operates one Su-25 as of 2008.[91][92]
 Iran
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Air Force. On 21 January 1991, seven Iraqi Su-25s were flown to Iran in an effort to find a temporary safe haven from Operation Desert Storm attacks on major Iraqi airfields. These Iraqi aircraft were considered by the Iranians to be a gift from their former adversary, and were seized by the Iranian military. However, as a result of lack of spare parts, documentation, and pilot training, these aircraft were never flown by the Iranian Air Force. Iran's has added at least six new aircraft to its inventory and has since likely restored ex-Iraqi Su-25s to flight status as well.[18] Reports indicate that some of the IRGCAF aircraft been transferred back to Iraq in July 2014, to increase the latter's CAS and COIN capabilities (see under Iraq below).[57]
 Iraq
Iraqi Air Force. During the course of the early phase of the Iran–Iraq War, Iraq approached the Soviet Union with a request to purchase a wide variety of military equipment. As a result, Iraq become the first non-Warsaw Pact country to obtain the Su-25K and Su-25UBK combat trainer. It is believed that Iraq received a total of 73 Su-25s, of which four were the Su-25UBK trainer. In January 1998, the Iraqi Air Force still possessed 12 Su-25s, and at least three Su-25Ks were seen in a demonstration over Baghdad in December 2002. However, the remaining Su-25s were phased out immediately after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.[82] In 2014, the IQAF signed a deal with Russia and Belarus for the purchase of Su-25s, with the first five arriving on 28 June 2014.[93] A further seven from Iran were delivered on 1 July 2014, the majority of which were from the Gulf War.[57]
 Ivory Coast
Air Force of Ivory Coast. Nine French soldiers were killed and 23 wounded when two Ivorian Su-25s bombed French positions in Bouaké.[31] As a result, French soldiers destroyed the Su-25s on the ground at Yamoussoukro air base.[32]
 Kazakhstan
Kazakh Air Force – received 12 single-seat Su-25s and two Su-25UB trainers in December 1995 as compensatory payment for the return of the Tu-95MS "Bear-H" strategic bombers which had been rapidly flown out of the republic at the time of the collapse of the USSR. The Kazakh Su-25s are located at Chimkent air base in the south of the country.[82]
 Macedonia
Macedonian Air Force. The Republic of Macedonia purchased three single-seat Su-25s and one Su-25UB following incursions and attacks by Albanian insurgents. The aircraft were supplied by Ukrainian authorities after having been withdrawn from Ukrainian Air Force service.[94] The aircraft were retired in 2004, and sold to Georgia in 2005.[95]
 North Korea
North Korean Air Force – North Korea was the first Asian country to obtain the Su-25. In the 1950s the North Korean Air Force had accumulated experience operating the Su-25's piston-engined predecessor, the Ilyushin Il-10 "Beast". In the period from the end of 1987 until 1989, the DPRK acquired a total of 32 single-seat Su-25Ks and four Su-25UBKs. The aircraft are based at Sunchon Airport (20 km from Pyongyang), which features heavily fortified natural hangars equipped with blast-proof doors capable of protecting the aircraft from conventional and nuclear explosions.[29]
 Peru
Peruvian Air Force. Peru received 18 Su-25s in late 1998 from Belarus, which refurbished them prior to delivery. The shipment comprised 10 single-seat and eight dual-seat Su-25UB trainers. The aircraft were all built just before the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus represented the final versions of the Soviet Su-25. It is believed that between 1998 and December 2005, at least 25 light aircraft transporting cocaine had been shot down by the Peruvian Su-25s.[29] As of February 2013, 18 Su-25s are in service, with only 4 aircraft operational.[96]
 Russia
Russian Air Force – Russia possesses a reduced fleet of Su-25s, which are operated by Attack Regiments. The major variants used are the single-seat Su-25, the twin-seat Su-25UB, and the Su-25BM target-towing version. In addition, the Russian Air Force received a small number of Su-25T anti-tank variants, which have been tested under combat conditions in Chechnya. The Su-25 is also operated by the Russian Naval Aviation, both in standard land-based Su-25 and Su-25UB guise, as well as in the specialised Su-25UTG role as a carrier-operable trainer. Overall, 286 Su-25s are in service with the Russian Air Force, including 10 being operated by the Navy as of 2008.[64] A modernisation program of single-seat Su-25s to the Su-25SM variant is underway.[29] The first modernised Su-25SM was delivered in August 2001.[7] By March 2013, over 60 Su-25SMs were scheduled to be delivered.[70] The modernisation program is to conclude in 2020 with over 80 units upgraded.[68]
 Slovakia
The Slovak Air Force received 12 Su-25Ks and one Su-25UBK following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. The aircraft were based at the Slovak 33rd Air Base in Malacky-Kuchyna. They were sold to Armenia.[82]
 Soviet Union
Soviet Air Force. Passed aircraft on to successor states.
 Sudan
Sudanese Air Force – had one Su-25 in service as of November 2008.[92] Since 2008 it has reportedly obtained 15 of the aircraft.[30]
 Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan Air Force – Following the downfall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent Republic of Turkmenistan was given 46 Su-25s which had been disassembled for storage in Turkmenistan at that time. In accordance with an agreement between Georgia and Turkmenistan in 1999, the Tbilisi Aerospace Manufacturing corporation refurbished 45 of these aircraft for use by the Turkmenistan Air Force as payment for the delivery of natural gas. The refurbished aircraft were relocated at Ak-Tepe air base, and a total of 18 operational Su-25s are known to be based there by 2004.[29]
 Ukraine
Ukrainian Air Force. Ukraine obtained 92 Su-25s of differing variants following the country's independence in the wake of the break-up of the USSR. Currently, the Ukrainian Air Force operates approximately 60 Su-25, Su-25UBs, and Su-25UTGs, which are operated by the 299th Independent Assault Regiment (299 OShAP) based at Kulbakino, Mykolaiv Oblast, and at Saki in the Crimea, and the 456th Assault Regiment (456 ShAP) at Chortkiv. Up to 30 Su-25s are reportedly stored at the 4070th Reserve Base. Evidently, three Su-25s sold to Macedonia came from this reserve pool.[29] Also, Ukrainian Air Force modernized two types of the Su-25, one of them is Su-25M1 and Su-25UBM1.[78]
 Uzbekistan
Until 1990, a Soviet Air Force pilot training centre equipped with around 20 Su-25, Su-25UB, and Su-25BM variants was located at Chirchik air base in Uzbekistan. In 1991, a small number of Su-25s were also located at Dzhizak air base, but after 1991, all Su-25s in Uzbekistan were concentrated at Chirchik, operated by the 59th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment (59 APIB) of the Soviet Air Force. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, all the Su-25s on the territory of the now independent republic became the property of the new government.[29]

Accidents

The Su-25 has been involved in the following aviation accidents.

  • An Su-25K of the Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo disappeared in December 2006 during a routine rebasing operation and no wreckage was ever found.[87]
  • Another Congolese Su-25K crashed on 30 June 2007 during an Independence Day display, near the city of Kisangani, killing the pilot. Investigations revealed that the crash was due to an engine failure.[87]
  • An Su-25 of the Russian Air Force exploded in mid-air on 20 March 2008 during a live firing exercise over the Primorsky Krai, 143 km (89 mi) from Vladivostok, killing the pilot. Further investigations revealed that the aircraft was downed by a missile accidentally launched by a wingman. After the accident, all Russian Su-25s were grounded until the investigation was concluded.[97]

Specifications (Su-25/Su-25K, late production)

Su25-kompo-vers2.svg

Sukhoi Su-25 line drawing

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004[99]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Length: 15.53 m[nb 1] (50 ft 1112 in)
  • Wingspan: 14.36 m (47 ft 112 in)
  • Height: 4.80 m (15 ft 9 in)
  • Wing area: 33.7 m² (323 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 9,800 kg (21,605 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 14,600 kg (32,187 lb) (normal take-off weight)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 17,600 kg (38,800 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Soyuz/Gavrilov R-195 turbojets, 44.18 kN (9,921 lbf) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach 0.8 (975 km/h, 526 knots, 606 mph) at sea level
  • Combat range: 750 km (405 nmi, 466 mi) at sea level, 4,400 kg (9,700 lb) weapons and two external tanks
  • Service ceiling: 7,000 m[100] (22,965 ft) clean, 5,000 m (16,000 ft) with max weapons
  • Rate of climb: 58 m/s (11,400 ft/min)

Armament

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

References

Notes

  1. ^ Including nose probe

Citations

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Bibliography

External links