The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has been dominated by modern Russian fighter jets and their combat against Ukraine’s Air Force. However, a Soviet-era ground strike combat aircraft has been deployed by both combatants and continues to hold ground.
On November 28, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) published a video showing a pair of Su-25 attack aircraft conducting low-altitude sorties.
A statement accompanying the video stated that the crew of these attack aircraft launched missile strikes on military facilities and equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).
As part of the strategy widely adopted by the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS), missile launches were carried out in pairs from low altitudes. According to the Russian MoD, these missile strikes successfully obliterated camouflaged fortified field positions and armored vehicles of AFU.
The video below shows the fighter pilot from the front conducting multiple strikes and skillfully maneuvering the aircraft at a low altitude. Even though the MoD did not specify which missiles were fired on Ukraine, the Su-25’s weaponry has historically comprised rockets, cluster bombs, and unguided 250- or 500-kilogram bombs.
The aircraft’s ten under-wing pylons, which can host a variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon systems, can be armed with air-to-ground Kh-23, Kh-25ML, and Kh-29l missiles, as well as air-to-air R-3S and R-60 missiles.
In addition, the aircraft can also be equipped with S-24 240mm guided missiles, S-25 330mm guided rockets, B-8M1 pods for 80mm S-8 rockets, and UB-32A pods for 57mm S-5 rockets.
After the Su-25 sorties were conducted in a pair, the engineering and technical staff of the VKS serviced the aircraft and prepared the aviation equipment for a second combat sortie. The Russian MoD did not specify the region where these combat sorties were conducted.
On November 27, a pair of Su-25 was caught on camera conducting low-altitude sorties in the Bakhmut and Donbas region, where fighting is raging in full earnest. The Su-25 Grach, also known as Frogfoot, is a Soviet-era close air support (CAS) aircraft. It is designed to target small, stationary, and moving ground targets.
Not An Easy Run For The Soviet Frogfoot
The Su-25 Frogfoot has been extensively deployed in the ongoing conflict by both the warring sides. Both Air Forces operate their Su-25 aircraft close to the ground, mainly to avoid being detected by the radar systems of the adversary.
However, several Su-25s have been shot down by air defense systems due to their proximity to the ground.
The aircraft’s Soyuz/Gavrilov R-195 turbojet engines had a maximum takeoff weight of 17,600 kilograms and a thrust of 44.17kN apiece. The Su-25 has a top speed of 950 kilometers per hour, a fighting radius of 375 kilometers, and a range of 750 kilometers. The aircraft has a service ceiling of 7000 meters and can climb at 58 meters per second.
However, the Su-25 has suffered the most kills in this war, with more than three dozen estimated to have been shot down cumulatively. According to data published by the military tracking blog Oryx earlier this month based on visual verification, 38 Su-25s have been destroyed, 23 of which belonged to Russia and 15 to Ukraine.
The outmatched and outnumbered Ukrainian forces have executed an air denial plan by deploying air defenses and anti-aircraft weapons that have kept Russian fighters at bay. Armed with Javelins and Stingers, the AFU troops have shot down several Russian combat jets flying at low altitudes.
This has been why Russia has had to resort to ground-launched cruise missiles and kamikaze drones to destroy targets inside Ukrainian territory. Despite having a 10:1 numerical superiority against the Ukrainian Air Force, Russia has been put in a precarious position and has lost fighters at an unprecedented speed.
Ukraine’s Air Force is relatively inferior to the VKS and is dominated by the archaic Su-24, Su-25, Su-27, and MiG-29s. Russia has deployed its MiG-31 Foxhound aircraft that flies at a high altitude and fires long-range missiles to take down Ukraine’s fighter jets.
That said, losses continue to mount on both sides as the fighting continues unabated. However, one thing is sure: the Soviet-era fighter jet operated at the height of the Cold War still dominates the battlefield in Europe.
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