Su-25 and Su-34 fighters often work in the park during combat operations, Russian state media confirmed last month. The Russian military is likely using its Su-34 platforms to “cover” the Su-25 when it flies low-altitude strike missions.

According to those who have studied the continuing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Su-25 has taken the greatest number of casualties over the past thirteen months. Mobile phone photos of a shot-down Su-25 fighter jet went viral in March.

Although the plane’s path to the ground was not documented, the remains of the platform indicate that it most certainly fell from the air. Regardless of the Su-25’s trajectory so far in Ukraine, Moscow remains reliant on this Soviet-era fighter.

Presentation of the Su-25 “Frogfoot”

In the 1960s, the Soviet Air Force held a contest to find their next close support aircraft to the battlefield. The manufacturer, Sukhoi, developed the T-8 prototype at that time, which evolved into the Su-25 fighter.

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

The USSR’s desire to develop its own close support airframe followed the US effort to create its A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” fighter. Although the Warthog and Frogfoot were designed to carry out similar missions, the two airframes have very different capabilities.

Belarusian Su-25

The Warthog vs. the Frogfoot

The Su-25 and the A-10 are both well-known as “flying tanks” due to their thick armor. The Frogfoot, in contrast to its American analog, is more compact, lighter, and quicker. Earlier models of the Russian plane were powered by a pair of R-95Sh turbojets, which did not have afterburners.

The aircraft is equipped with foam-filled, self-sealing fuel containers with a total fuel capacity of approximately 3,600 liters. The range of the jet can be extended by adding four PTB-1500 external fuel canisters mounted on underwing pylons.

The Frogfoot, as reported by Air Force Technology, can climb at a velocity of 58 meters per second. “The plane’s top speed is 950 kilometers per hour.” The aircraft’s combat radius and transport range are 375 kilometers and 7,500 kilometers, respectively.

The normal range of the Su-25 is 750 km, while its service ceiling is 7,000 m. The takeoff and landing roll of the Su-25 is 750 m and 600 m, respectively. The plane weighs about 10,740 kg, and its maximum takeoff weight is 17,600 kg.

Su-25 : The Russian counter to the A-10 Warthog

The Su-25 does not have a stellar warfare record.

The Frogfoot was used extensively by the Soviets during the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s. Since Afghan fighters trained with US-supplied Stinger missiles could shoot down many of the S-25s, the fighter proved to have some significant vulnerabilities. 

Shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (SAMS), in particular, caused havoc for the Soviet navy. The Georgian Air Force used the Frogfoot during the Iran-Iraq War and the ensuing Abkhaz War.

Su-25 in the world

After the fall of the Soviet Union, many former Soviet governments received Su-25 “flying tanks” that had been exported in large numbers throughout the 1980s. The Air Forces of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South Africa all use the Su-25.

Ukrainian forces “took retribution” for earlier airstrikes by shooting down a Russian Su-25 and capturing the pilot at the end of February. This episode and other reports of Su-25 losses from elsewhere in the battle suggest that Russia’s “flying tank” is underperforming.