The Sukhoi su25 Frogfoot remains the mainstay of Russian ground attack regiment (shturmovoy). Su25 goes parallel to the A10 Thunderbolt, and has been matured to be a sophisticated war plane with more than 10 years of combat experience.
The T-10 prototype flew for the first time in 22 February 1975. When put to production it flew more than 60000 combat sorties in Afghanistan alone. With the experience gained in Afghanistan a number of modifications were done to the aircraft. The SU25 was more heavily committed to the invasion of Chechnya, the need for an All weather day and night ground attack capable aircraft with an extended range and survivability led to the SU25T which was based on the SU25UB two seat variant. This led to more modifications and the SU25TM variant also known as the SU39 was finally unveiled. The TK and the TM are available for export.
The Russian Air force is currently operating around 250SU25's and are constantly upgrading them because it's their front line ground attack aircraft
The SU25 is playing a major role in the rapid deployment groups in the six military districts of the Russian federation. These units have 4 SU25TM's and 12 SU25SM's
Lipetsk Air Base is the home of the SU25. The true work horse of the Russian air force is the SU25 because of its simplicity and ease of maintenance. It is described by western pilots as the Simple sturdy fast and highly maneuverable fighter they ever have flown. The SU25 is considered to be the Russian fighter pilots plane of choice. The American F18 pilots fell in love with this plane when the blue angels came to Russia and had the chance to fly the SU25. when the Russians and Americans flew MiG29's and SU27 they were really happy to see these amazing aircrafts. But none of them flew the SU25 because of the looks, most of them looked suspiciously they didn't want to fly it
Then one US pilot was pushed to fly one. And after that the American pilots were staying in line to fly the SU24
Jeffrey Ethell (late blue angels pilot) one of the first western pilots who flew the SU25 says " I've flown it, and I was very impressed with it, I was the first western pilot to fly the airplane the reason was nobody else wanted to fly it, they all said that it's a SU25its like an old A10, who wants to fly that? The SU25 is their idea of the A10, it has a 30mm gun, it fires a big round and it will punch a hole in a tank. it'll carry a lot of weapons in its side, Bombs, rockets. And what's interesting about the SU25 is once you punch everything off of it, it will go over Mach one! The A10 doest even come close. It slows down and stops right around the 400 knots. Where as the su25 will go straight to speed of sound, it will turn on a dime with great acceleration"
"We found out quickly that we need that kind of "In the face knife fighting" type of airplane, which will support the guy in the ground quickly easily and close. You got to be close to support somebody you don't stand off around 20 miles and support the guys on the front line. You got to get there with a gun and some skill, and learn how to mix it up. That's what the SU27 does. And that's why Russian air force is not getting rid of it as long as they have money. It's a simple airplane it has 2 MiG 21 engines in it reliable, been there for a long time, you can belly land this and again bring it back with simple repairs, it is a rugged airplane."
I have to emphasize some of the facts Jeffrey Ethell said about the SU25. One is, it is a close support capable aircraft with a titanium strong box cockpit it can take a barrage of 20mm gun rounds shot in close range and it barely even scratch the aircraft. Pilot and plane often escape unscathed.
One thing most people don't know is the fact that close support really means close support. I agree with Jeffrey, with my personal experience. You cannot support ground troops from miles away.
Less maintenance is a main point in fighters like this. And This aircraft can operate on any weather.
In Afghan war, Chinese made heavy anti aircraft guns, and held soviet made missiles, highly mobile stingers were used to counter the threat of the SU25 but out of that only one worked properly, it's the stinger. When the stinger was introduced the Russians had no answer to it. It managed to destroy Mi24, Mi18 and all slow and low flying objects. Later modifications of the SU25, was to fit the fighter with Flairs for heat seeking missile protection.
Spec: SU25SMT (Su39)
Type: All weather Anti Armour/Close Support Aircraft
One 30mm NNPU 8M Cannon – with 200 Rounds
Maximum Ordnance load 5000Kg's
primary weapons Vikhr M ATGMs.
Other weapons: TV-Guided Kh-29LASMs, Kh35AShM, Kh58U and KH-31ARMs, KAB-500Kr, LGBs, KMGU – 2Submunition Dispensers, 250Kg and 500Kg RBK Series Cluster Bombs, and 50 – to 500Kg FAB Series GP Bombs plus R-27R, R-77 and R-73AAMs
Power Plant: Two MNPK Soyuz/Gavrilov R195Sh Turbojets. Each with 44.13kN
Max speed: 950Km/h
Maximum Initial climb Rate: 3480m per minute
Service Ceiling 10 000m
Combat Radius 400Km
Maximum Take-off weight 20 000Kg