Russian Air Force continues to modernize its Su25

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The air forces played a crucial role during the intervention of Russian forces in Syria to support the regime of Bashar al Assad. If the Su30, Su-34 and Su35 benefited from significant media exposure, it was above all the Su24 and Su25 which carried the bulk of the assault missions. And like the Mi35 helicopters, although dated, which were satisfactory in combat, the Russian Su25s provided valuable fire support to the forces engaged on the ground. It is to maintain this capacity that the Russian general staff has initiated a plan to modernize its fleet of su25s, to bring them to the SM3 standard, of which a new batch of 4 aircraft has just been delivered to the southern military district.

The Russian Air Force today has nearly 200 Su25s, of different versions, constituting 20% ​​of its combat aircraft fleet. The aircraft made its first flight in 1975, and entered service from 1981. More than 1000 aircraft were manufactured, and it was exported to more than twenty countries. Like the American A10 Thunderbolt, the Su25 is primarily a close air support aircraft, intended to operate close to the ground to provide fire support as close as possible to engagement zones thanks to its significant payload capacity, and its armor conferring protection to evolve close to the opponent.

The modernization of the Su25 to the SM3 standard is based on new armor, a new Vitebsk-25 self-defense system, and a new SOLT-25 navigation and aiming system, offering laser, optical and infrared guidance capabilities, and allowing the device to now operate at all times. On the other hand, as previously, the Su25 is not capable of carrying out its operations at night, the CAS as practiced by the device not being adapted to night operations. While the Su25SM primarily uses unguided weapons, such as grav bombs and rockets, the SM3 is capable of using KAB-500 laser-guided bombs, laser-guided air-to-ground missiles, and anti-radiation missiles Kh58.

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While the Su24s are being replaced by the Su34, the fleet of fighter planes has gradually been transformed to Su30 and Su35, and the Su57 is preparing to replace the Su27s reaching the end of their operational life, no program aimed at to replace the Su25 has not been announced. But unlike the US Air Force which seems determined to withdraw its A10s from service as soon as possible, the VKS seem to want to keep their Su25s in service for many more years. Because if the device is indeed no longer able to operate in a high intensity environment, it still provides exceptional capabilities during medium and low intensity engagements, such as in Syria.

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