NATO Designation "Frogfoot"
|Entered service in||1979|
|Dimensions and weight|
|Wing span||14.4 m|
|Weight (normal)||16.5 - 19.5 t|
|Maximum ordnance load||5 t|
|Engines||2 x MNPK Soyuz/Gavrilov R-195Sh|
|Traction||2 x 44.13 kN|
|Maximum speed||950 km/h|
|Service ceiling||10 km|
|Flying range||1 250 km|
|Combat radius||400 km|
|Aviation cannon||GSh-30-2 double-barrel aviation canoon|
|Missiles||R-60M, R-73, Kh-23, Kh-25, Kh-29, Kh-31, Kh-35, Kh-58, AT-9 "Vihr", S-5, S-8, S-13, S-24, S-25|
|Bombs||up to 3 t|
The Sukhoi Su-25 "Frogfoot"
attack aircraft remains the mainstay of Russian ground-attack regiments. The type is
broadly analogous to the US A-10 but has been matured into a more
sophisticated warplane. The T-8 prototype made it's first flight on 22 February
1975, but type was comprehensively redesigned before series production was
authorized. Aircraft entered service with the Soviet air forces in 1979
and in 1984 achieved full operational status.
It is intended to support ground forces, destroy heavy armored vehicles, fortifications and other targets. The Su-25 "Frogfoot" is some kind of competitor to the US A-10 "Thunderbolt" attack aircraft. Comparing them "Frogfoot" is significantly smaller, lighter but features more powerful armament and speed. Also the Su-25 has lighter protection than the "Thunderbolt". It is explained that US designers paid more attention to develop aircraft with good survivability while soviet designers developed smaller aircraft with better maneuverability that is harder to hit. Furthermore Su-25 "Frogfoot" was completed with more powerful turbojet engines instead of turboprop on the A-10.
Weapons available include a double-barrel 30-mm cannon with 250 rounds, and underwing capacity for 4.4 tones of ordnance on 8 pylons. This disposable ordnance can include unoperated rockets, laser-guided rocket proprlrd bombs, "dumb" bombs of incendiary, anti-personnel, and chemical types, Air-to-Air missiles for self-defense, Air-to-Ground missiles, Anti-tank missiles.
"Frogfoot" features a 24-mm welded titanium cockpit armor tub, an air mixing duct system to cool engine exhaust, and other survivability features like foam-filled fuel tanks and pushrod-actuated control surfaces. In addition, 256 flares or chaff dispensers are carried near the rear of the aircraft in the tailcone and above the engine exhausts. The laser designator and target indicating electronics are carried in the extreme nose.
There were built later versions of the Su-25 attack aircraft:
- The Su-25UB "Frogfoot-B" is a two seat combat trainer. This is one of 2 trainer versions built on the Su-25. In order to give the rear seat occupant a decent view, the back seat is raised high up, which gives all of the 2-seaters a hunchbacked appearance. The Su-25UB can carry the same weapon load as the Su-25, and also keeps the cannon and is fully combat capable. Recently the Su-25UBs are being upgraded as Su-25UBMs. The Su25UBK is an export version of the Su-25UB;
- The Su-25UT "Frogfoot-B" is also trainer version similar to Su-25UB, but without weapon capability;
- The Su-25UTG "Frofoot-B" is a naval trainer. This aircraft is built with an arrestor hook for naval training use. Of 10 built Ukraine operates 5, while one of the remaining Russian 5 was wrecked and written off. The 4 Russian remaining Su-25UTGs make individual flights out to the "Admiral of the Fleet Kuznetsov" aircraft carrier;
- The Su-25BM is a target tag. This aircraft features extra underwing pylons for use as a target tug;
- The Su-25T is an improved version of the Su-25. As "Frogfoots" flew some 60 000 combat sorties in Afghanistan and this experience led to a range of modifications applied to production aircraft from 1987. The need for an al-weather and night capable Su-25 with increased range, endurance and survivability led to the Su-25T ("T" for "Anti-tank"). This is based on the airframe of the Su-25UB two-seat trainer version with the humped rare cockpit faired over. This space now holds a fuel cell and extra avionics. An early batch of 20 Su-25Ts was built during 1990-1991 in Tbilisi (Georgia). Production was subsequently transferred to Ulan-Ude (Russia). The first Russian-built Su-25T flew in 1995; the variant has since been redesignated Su-25TM or Su-39. The 20 Georgian built Su-25Ts have been upgraded at Ulan-Ude to Su-39.
The Russian air force currently operates about 250 Su-25s and is upgrading around 80 to Su-25SM standard using some of the systems developed for the Su-39. Su-25s also were operated during both anti-terror campaigns in Chechnya. This aircraft will reportedly play a major role in the rapid-deployment groups that are being formed in each of the Russian Federation's six military districts. These units will have four Su-39 and 12 Su-25SM.
Many former Soviet republics gained the Su-25 regiments stationed on their territory on break up of the Soviet Union. Such operators comprise Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Georgia (Abkhazia), Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan (in storage) and Uzbekistan. Export version of the Su-25 the Su-25K operate Angola, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, North Korea, Peru and Slovakia.