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Su-25: Unleashing the Beast – Russia’s Fierce Response to the A-10 Warthog

Su-25 and Su-34 fighters frequently operate together during combat missions, as confirmed by Russian state media last month. It is likely that the Russian military deploys its Su-34 platforms to provide support and protection for the low-altitude strike missions carried out by the Su-25.

According to analysts studying the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Su-25 has sustained the highest number of casualties over the past thirteen months. In March, photos of a downed Su-25 fighter jet circulated widely on social media, indicating that the aircraft indeed crashed from the sky. Despite the Su-25’s track record in Ukraine, Moscow continues to rely on this Soviet-era fighter.

Introducing the Su-25 “Frogfoot”

In the 1960s, the Soviet Air Force initiated a competition to find their next close air support aircraft for the battlefield. Sukhoi, the manufacturer, developed the T-8 prototype, which eventually evolved into the Su-25 fighter.

The ground attack aircraft made its maiden flight in the early 1970s, and its certification testing was completed after five years.

The USSR’s objective to create its own dedicated close air support aircraft followed the United States’ development of the A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” fighter. While both the Warthog and Frogfoot were designed for similar missions, they possess distinct capabilities.

Comparing the Warthog and the Frogfoot

The Su-25 and A-10 are both renowned as “flying tanks” due to their robust armor. However, the Frogfoot, in contrast to its American counterpart, is more compact, lighter, and faster. Earlier models of the Russian plane were equipped with a pair of R-95Sh turbojets, which lacked afterburners.

The aircraft features foam-filled, self-sealing fuel tanks with a total capacity of approximately 3,600 liters. Additional PTB-1500 external fuel canisters can be attached to underwing pylons to extend the jet’s range.

According to Air Force Technology, the Frogfoot can climb at a rate of 58 meters per second, with a top speed of 950 kilometers per hour. The aircraft’s combat radius is 375 kilometers, while its maximum transport range reaches 7,500 kilometers.

The Su-25 has a normal range of 750 kilometers, a service ceiling of 7,000 meters, a takeoff roll of 750 meters, and a landing roll of 600 meters. The aircraft weighs approximately 10,740 kilograms, with a maximum takeoff weight of 17,600 kilograms.

The Su-25’s combat record is not outstanding.

During the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s, the Frogfoot saw extensive use by Soviet forces. However, the fighter exhibited vulnerabilities when faced with Afghan fighters armed with US-supplied Stinger missiles. Shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, in particular, posed a significant threat to the Soviet aircraft. The Georgian Air Force also deployed the Frogfoot during the Iran-Iraq War and the subsequent Abkhaz War.

The Su-25 worldwide

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many former Soviet republics acquired the Su-25 “flying tanks,” which had been exported in large numbers throughout the 1980s. The Su-25 is currently employed by air forces in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South Africa.

In late February, Ukrainian forces retaliated for previous airstrikes by shooting down a Russian Su-25 and capturing its pilot. This incident, along with reports of Su-25 losses in other theaters of conflict, indicates that Russia’s “flying tank” may not be performing up to expectations.

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