The Russian Su-25s have contributed significantly to neutralizing the Ukrainian air defense systems from the early hours of the conflict.
Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine has entered its second week. Before that, the combat aircraft of the Russian Air Force had been actively working and neutralizing Ukraine’s air force and air defense systems since the early hours of the war.
Since mastering Ukraine’s airspace, Russian fighters seem to be taking less sorties, and the task of hitting important targets is left to ground artillery. However, there is still one aircraft that is operating very effectively in the early days of the operation, supporting infantry and leveling fortified Ukrainian defensive targets, the “flying tank” Su-25.
The Su-25 Frogfoot is a single-seat, twin-engine subsonic attack aircraft developed in the Soviet era. It was designed to provide air support to Soviet ground forces. Its first flight took place on February 22, 1975, and mass production in 1978.
Su-25, known by Russian pilots as “Grach” or “Rook”, is one of the warplanes that is not equipped with advanced technologies, but is still widely used around the world, because of its efficiency and ease of use. Its rival is the American A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft. While the US Air Force wants to decommission the A-10 starting in 2022, the Su-25 is still undergoing extensive upgrades to keep up with the times.
Unlike the A-10 Thunderbolt, the Su-25 is more popular worldwide. The Russian plane has participated in many wars and most recently, including in air campaigns in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.
The advantage of the Su-25 is that it can fly at a low altitude to avoid all dangerous long-range anti-aircraft missiles in the European battlefield. However, this also puts the aircraft within range of all anti-aircraft guns. As a result, the cockpit of the Su-25 is armored up to 25 mm around the cockpit and the pilot’s headrest.
The fuel tanks of the Su-25 are also armored. There is a backup control system to increase survivability after a hit. And in its heroic combat career, many Su-25s have survived fierce battles.
Despite its similarities to the A-10, the Su-25 is smaller and lighter, and has a top speed 50% faster than the A-10. Weapons of the Su-25 usually include 250 or 500 kg unguided bombs, cluster bombs and rockets. In addition, the aircraft is equipped with a variety of missiles, from rockets to large missiles of 240 mm or 330 mm. The Su-25 also has a 30 mm Gsh-30-2 cannon under the nose with 260 rounds of ammunition. The Su-25s have also used Kh-25ML and Kh-29 laser-guided missiles in Afghanistan.
When the Soviet Union dissolved, the Su-25 was transferred to the air forces of all the successor states of the Soviet Union, of which Russia was the only country that continued to upgrade the Su-25. The Su-25 also has an export variant, the Su-25K, and two-seat trainer variants.
There have been several projects to modernize the Su-25, including the Su-25T and the Su-25TM. But the Russian Air Force ultimately selected the Su-25SM in the early 2000s for all future modernization operations. Despite being nearly 50 years old and using outdated technology, the Su-25 still shows incredible combat ability. The Su-25 is still popular around the world and has been present in many conflicts.