The Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO codename: Frogfoot) is a Russian-built, single-seat attack plane, used mainly in close-support missions. It has been in service since the early 80s, and has seen action in several conflicts around the world, most recently the war between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia.
The Su-25's design goes all the way back to the late 60's, and the first prototype flew in February of 1975.
Like its American counterpart, the A-10 Thunderbolt, the Su-25 was designed to be tough. Priority was given to simplicity, ease of maintenance, and survivability. In pursuit of the last, the plane had an inch of titanium all around the cockpit, an armored canopy, armor protecting every vital system, and reticulated foam in the fuel tanks (the modern day equivalent of self-sealing) to minimize the risk of fire or explosions. In addition, the plane’s two engines were spaced as far apart as possible without hurting performance, so that a lucky shot wouldn’t take them both out at the same time. The plane proved its durability in Afghanistan, where the Frogfoot had the lowest loss rate of any jet in the theater.
The Frogfoot has ten wing-mounted pylons for a wide variety of weapons, external fuel tanks, and jamming pods, as needed, and is equipped with an internal 30 mm cannon, with 250 rounds.
The Frogfoot performed admirably in the Afghanistan War, where its ruggedness gave it a distinct advantage. Su-25s flew approximately 60,000 combat sorties in the conflict, where it became known as the Grach (rook). A total of 23 Su-25s were shot down in combat, many to US-built portable surface-to-air missiles. One was lost to a Pakistani F-16 during an attack on a refugee camp on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Ivory Coast acquired four Frogfoots from Belarus in late 2002, and they were used in that country’s civil war, carrying out bombing missions against the rebel capital and military headquarters. After one of the planes rocketed a camp of French peacekeepers, killing ten, a French counterstrike with anti-tank missiles damaged two Su-25s on the ground.
During the Gulf War, the Iraqi Air Force had Su-25s in its inventory, but since the Coalition had almost complete air superiority, none of them were able to fly missions against Coalition troops, and most were never able to get airborne. Two of them were shot down by F-15 Eagles while attempting to flee to Iran.
Georgia-Russia War over South Ossetia
Both Georgia and Russia operated Su-25s in the 2008 conflict. According to a Russian report, Georgian Frogfoots flew bombing missions over South Ossetia during Georgia’s initial incursion. Georgian losses were at least one Sukhoi from anti-aircraft fire , and Russian bombing raids targeted air bases, so other planes may have been destroyed or damaged on the ground. The Russian air force lost at least four aircraft in the conflict, three of them Su-25s.
- The Vital Guide to Military Aircraft, ed. by Sophearith Moeng, Airlife Publishing, 1994
- The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft, ed. by Paul Eden, Aerospace Publishing, 2004
- Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot
- The Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot”
- Afghanistan, 1979-2001, Part 1
- African MiGs, Part 1
- Cote d’Ivoire, since 2002
- As Georgia Retreats, Russia Presses On
- The First Peace-Keeping War
- Lenta.ru: General staff recognizes aircraft losses
- Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot, by Yefim Gordon, 2008