Su-25: Russian 'flying tank' faces challenges in Ukraine

Russia’s Su-25 Flying Tank and Su-34 aircraft are performing in a joint role in the air theater of operations. According to military experts, the Su-25 is speculated to have experienced the highest number of casualties during the Ukraine conflict.

Functionality in the Battle of The Su-25 Flying Tank:

Russian state media confirm that, during war operations, Su-34s are used to protect Su-25s in low-altitude strike missions. The Su-25, despite being of Soviet origin, continues to be highly dependent on Moscow.

The Su-25 Flying Tank: The Russian Counterpart to the A-10 Warthog

Scholars of the conflict in Ukraine identify the Su-25 as the aircraft with the highest number of losses in the last 13 months. However, the route of the remains of the damaged aircraft indicates that they were shot down in the air, as evidenced by videos broadcast on social networks.

In the 1960s, the Su-25 arose from the Soviet Air Force’s desire for its own close battlefield support aircraft, modeled on the American A-10 Thunderbolt II. Both aircraft, although developed for similar missions, have very different capabilities.

Su-25: A Unique Flying Tank

The Su-25 Flying Tank: The Russian Counterpart to the A-10 Warthog

Known as a “flying tank,” the Su-25 shares this designation with the A-10 due to its strong armor. However, the Su-25 is lighter, smaller and faster. This aircraft has two R-95Sh turbojets without afterburning and self-sealing fuel tanks with a total capacity of 3,600 liters, expandable through external tanks.

The Su-25 Flying Tank: The Russian Counterpart to the A-10 Warthog

Air Force Technology reports that the Su-25 can climb at 58 m/s, reach a top speed of 950 km/h and have a combat radius and range of 375 km and 7,500 km, respectively. Its service ceiling is 7,000 m, and its maximum takeoff weight is 17,600 kg.

The Su-25 demonstrated its abilities during the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, although the Stinger surface-to-air missiles revealed some of their vulnerabilities. He also took part in the Iran-Iraq conflict and the Abkhaz war.

International Distribution of The Su-25 Flying Tank:

Su-25 Flying Tank

The Su-25 was exported extensively during the 1980s, being found today in former Soviet states and serving with the Air Forces of Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South Africa.

Recently, a Russian Su-25 pilot was captured after being shot down by Ukrainian forces. This and other Su-25 losses indicate that the Russian “flying tank” performance has not met Air Force expectations.

Despite recent challenges and casualties, the Su-25 “Flying Tank” remains a key piece in Russia’s air combat strategy.

How is the Su-25 “Flying Tank” used in Russia’s military operations?

In military operations, the Su-25  “Flying Tank”  often works in tandem with the Su-34. The Russian military is believed to use the Su-34 platforms to protect the Su-25 in low-altitude strike missions. However, the Su-25 has experienced considerable losses in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

What is the history and development of the Su-25 “Flying Tank”?

The Su-25 was developed by the manufacturer Sukhoi in the 1960s in response to a call by the Soviet Air Force for a new close-battlefield support aircraft. The T-8 prototype evolved into the Su-25, which made its maiden flight in the early 1970s. This Soviet-era fighter is still in use today.

How does the Su-25 “Flying Tank” compare to the US A-10 Warthog?

Both the Su-25 and A-10 are heavily armored, earning them the nickname “flying tanks.” Although both were designed for similar missions, they have very different capabilities. The Su-25 is smaller, lighter, and faster than the A-10.

What are the technical characteristics of the Su-25 “Flying Tank”?

The Su-25 features two R-95Sh turbojets without afterburning and self-sealing, foam-filled fuel tanks, giving a total fuel capacity of about 3,600 litres. The plane can climb at a speed of 58 m/s and has a top speed of 950 km/h. Its combat radius is 375 km, with a transport range of 7,500 km.

In what conflicts has the Su-25 “Flying Tank” been used?

The Su-25 has been used in a number of conflicts, including the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s, the Iran-Iraq War, the Abkhaz War, and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. It has shown some significant vulnerabilities, especially against surface-to-air shoulder-launched missiles (SAMS).