Russian Aerospace Forces receive upgraded Su-25SM3 jets

A batch of upgraded Su-25SM3 attack jets has been recently supplied to the Aerospace Forces. They resemble the usual S-25, but are actually a new aircraft with higher capabilities, the Army Standard said.

Russian Aerospace Forces receive upgraded Su 25SM3 jets A Sukhoi Su-25SM at the Celebration of the 100th anniversary of Russian Air Force (Picture source: Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

A batch of four jets was supplied to the Southern Military District. Another two aircraft will arrive by the end of the year. The Defense Ministry plans to upgrade the whole Su-25 fleet to the Su-25SM3 level. It is clear the attack aviation has to be upgraded for modern conflicts. The Syrian experience where the first Su-25SM3 were engaged confirmed it.

The fuel system and engine controls were upgraded. Su-25SM3 flies longer to a bigger range. It maintained the level of survivability. The integrated armor into the glider has remained. Steel protection in the front and sides is 24-mm thick and 10-mm in the back and bottom. The front armored windshield is 55-mm thick. The aircraft can sustain fire from 12.7mm weapons and up to 30mm fire in the most dangerous parts from antiaircraft weapons. All critically important systems have a standby. Su-25 downed in Afghanistan before Stinger manpads appeared sometimes had 80 hits.

Vitebsk-25 defense complex increases survivability. Besides electronic warfare, it discharges heat traps to distract manpad missiles.

The main difference is SOLT-25 (optical, laser, thermal-imaging) navigational complex. It detects and tracks ground, surface and sea targets in any climate and time of the day. Su-25 actually could not operate in the dark.

Su-25SM3 has an expanded set of weapons. It can fire antiradar Kh-58 missiles, smart KAB-500 bombs, etc.

Expert Viktor Murakhovsky said the upgrade changes the combat engagement tactic. "The aircraft is integrated into the command system of the Aerospace Forces and reconnaissance-strike forces. The integration accelerates information exchange and decreases the time from target detection to destruction several times," he said.

Su-25SM3 has a GLONASS module for navigation and fire by precision weapons. However, it retained the inertial navigation system to operate in the absence of satellite signals. Su-25SM3 received modern digital communications operating by protected channels, the Army Standard said.