Russia is upgrading its fleet of Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes to further boost their survivability. The latest variant of the armored aircraft is shown in action in a video released by the Russian military.
The Su-25 is among the most-used Russian aircraft, having left a mark in over a dozen armed conflicts since the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Dubbed the “flying tank” due to its heavy armor plating and overall resilience, its primary task is to provide close air support for ground forces, taking out high-value enemy targets on the battlefield.
A video published on Sunday by TV Zvezda, the official channel of the Russian military, shows the test flights of a pair of Su-25SM3s. Shot by multiple cameras from inside and outside cockpit, the footage shows the planes firing weapons and making combat maneuvers.
The Su-25 is fighting for its place in the Russian Armed Forces. When it was developed in the 1970s, it was designed as a slow-flying heavy hitter, which unlike faster fighter-bombers has enough time to identify and take out the enemy in one go while withstanding enemy fire head on.
Advances in anti-aircraft missile technology have made the Su-25 less ‘tank-like’ in comparison, while precision bombs and missiles require less time for deployment. So some military experts argue that it is time to retire the Frogfoot, as the aircraft is called by NATO, and let supersonic aircraft and combat helicopters take over its missions.
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Producers of the plane have addressed such concerns with new upgrades. The Su-25SM3 is the latest Russian variant of the veteran aircraft, which takes into account experience gained from its use in Syria. It boosts survivability by adding extra layers of defense against enemy missiles, makes the plane more versatile thanks to a better all-weather targeting system, and can carry a wider range of modern bombs and missiles.
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