Military Review

Su-17 fighters-bombers in Afghanistan

6
The "limited contingent of Soviet troops" introduced in Afghanistan 25 December 1979 (the famous Fortieth Army), was almost immediately reinforced by helicopter units and 49 Air Force (VA) fighter-bombers from TurkVO bases. Like the whole operation of "rendering international assistance to the Afghan people", the transfer of aircraft and people took place in conditions of strict secrecy. The task - to fly over to the airfields of Afghanistan and transfer all necessary property there - was put before the pilots and technicians on the last day. “Outrun the Americans” - it was this legend that was later persistently defended to explain the reasons for the introduction of parts of the Soviet army into the neighboring country. The first was to redeploy the air regiment of fighter-bombers from Kzyl-Arvat, armed with Su-17 and Su-17. The base station chose the airfield Shindand, there also posted a separate helicopter squadron.


When relocating, no technical problems arose - after a half-hour night flight, the first group of An-12, which delivered technical crews and the necessary ground support facilities, landed in Afghanistan, followed by Su-17. Haste and confusion made themselves felt - no one could say with certainty how they would be met by an unfamiliar country, in whose hands the airfield is located, and what awaits them at the “new duty station”.

The conditions of Afghanistan were far from comfortable and reminded little of the usual airfields and training grounds. As the orientation of the General Staff stated, “by the nature of the terrain, Afghanistan is one of the most unfavorable for actions aviation areas ". However, the climate did not favor aviation actions either. In winter, thirty-degree degrees of frost suddenly gave way to lingering rains and slush, the “Afghan” often blew out and dusty storms fell, reducing visibility to 200-300 m and making flights impossible. It was even worse in the summer when the air temperature rose to + 52 ° C, and the skin of the aircraft under the scorching sun glowed to + 80 ° C. The constant drying heat, which did not subside even at night, uniform food and lack of conditions for relaxation exhausted people.

There were only five airfields suitable for basing modern combat aircraft - Kabul, Bagram, Shindand, Jalalabad and Kandahar. They were located at an altitude of 1500 - 2500 m; sea ​​level. Endorsements on them deserved only the excellent quality of the runway, especially the “concrete” of Jalalabad and Bagram. All the rest necessary for the arrangement, the equipment of the stops and the maintenance of flights - from food and bed linen to spare parts and ammunition - had to be delivered from the USSR. The road network was poorly developed, rail and water transport simply existed, and the entire burden fell on transport aviation.

In March-April, 1980 began hostilities of the DRA army and the Soviet forces against groups that did not want to reconcile with the “socialist orientation” imposed on the country. The specifics of local conditions immediately demanded widespread use of aviation, which could ensure the implementation of planned operations, supporting the actions of ground troops and striking hard-to-reach places. In order to increase the coordination and efficiency of actions, the air units, located in the DRA, were subordinated to the 40 Army command in Kabul, at which the Air Force command post (CP) was located.

Su-17М4 at the Bagram airport. Under the wing - single bomb cassettes RBC-500-375 with fragmentation equipment. On the fuselage - cassettes with heat traps


At first, the enemy was scattered, small, and poorly armed groups that did not pose a practical danger to combat aircraft. Therefore, the tactics were quite simple - the armed groups were struck with bombs and unguided aircraft rockets (NAR) from low altitudes (for greater accuracy), and the main difficulty was in the difficulty of orientation on the monotonous mountain-desert terrain. It happened that the pilots on return could not accurately indicate on the map where they dropped bombs. Another problem was the piloting itself in the mountains, whose height in Afghanistan reaches 3500. The abundance of natural shelters - rocks, caves and vegetation - made it necessary to search for targets to decrease to 600 - 800 meters. In addition, the mountains made radio communication difficult and complicated flight management.

Exhausting climatic conditions and intense combat work led to an increase in the number of errors in piloting techniques and violations in the preparation of aircraft, and the average age of the "first run" pilots did not exceed 25-26 years.

Hard and accounted for technology. The heat and high mountains "ate" the thrusters of the engines, caused overheating and equipment failures (especially ASP-17 sights failed), dust clogged the filters and spoiled the lubrication of the aircraft components. The landing characteristics worsened, fuel consumption increased, the ceiling and combat load decreased. The Su-17 takeoff and with normal take-off weight increased one and a half times! When landings overheated and failed wheel brakes, "burned" tires pneumatics.

The automatic sight when bombing and launching rockets in the mountains was unreliable, so often had to use weapon in manual mode. The risk of colliding with a mountain when attacking or exiting it required special maneuvers, for example, slides with approaching and dropping bombs from 1600 - 1800 meters. NAR C-5 were used from a distance of about 1500 m, which led to significant dispersion and combined with a weak warhead made them ineffective means. Therefore, in the future, C-5 was used only against poorly protected targets in open areas. In the fight against fortifications and firing points, heavy NAR C-24, which had increased accuracy and more powerful warhead weighing 25,5 kg, showed themselves well. Suspended

UPK-23-250 cannon containers turned out to be practically unacceptable for Su-17 - there were no suitable targets for them, and the two built-in 30-mm HP-30 guns were enough. Also, the SPPU-22 with moving guns was not useful - the terrain was not very suitable for their use, and the complexity of the device led to an excessive expenditure of time for maintenance. The requirement for operational combat sorties, supply problems and difficult local conditions quickly identified the main directions in the preparation of aircraft: speed and maximum simplification of equipment, which requires the least possible amount of time and effort.

The fighting quickly became widespread. Attempts by the government to “restore order” led only to growing resistance, and the bombing attacks did not at all cause the population to respect “people's power”. A year later, the Kzyl-Arvatsky regiment replaced the Su-17 from Chirchik, and then the regiment flew from Mara to Afghanistan. Subsequently, by decision of the General Staff of the Air Force, other regiments of fighter, fighter-bomber and front-line bomber aircraft were to go through the DRA to gain combat experience, develop skills for independent actions and, not least, to reveal personnel abilities in combat situations. The equipment was also subjected to testing, which in the most intense exploitation revealed the most complete possibilities and shortcomings.

For operations in remote areas, the Su-17 from Shindand was transferred to Bagram airbases near Kabul and Kandahar in the south of the country. Baseings in Jalalabad were avoided, since shelling from the “green zone” closest to the airfield became commonplace there.

The expansion of the scale of hostilities required an increase in the effectiveness of sorties and improved tactics. First of all, this was due to the fact that the enemy himself had changed. Already with 1980-81. large opposition units began to operate, well-armed and equipped at bases in Iran and Pakistan, which received modern weapons, communications and transportation from many countries of the Arab world and the West. Aviation was the most dangerous for them, and soon the Mujahideen received air defense weapons, first of all, large caliber machine guns DShK and 14,5-mm anti-aircraft mining installations (ZGU). Low-flying aircraft and helicopters were also fired from small arms - machine guns and machine guns. As a result, 85% of all damage to aircraft was accounted for at that time by bullets of caliber 5,45 mm, 7,62 mm and 12,7 mm.

The increased danger in the performance of combat missions made it necessary to take measures to improve the training of pilots heading for the DRA. It was divided into three stages. The first one took place at its aerodromes and occupied 2-3 for the month of exploring the area of ​​future combat operations, mastering tactical techniques and piloting features. The second occupied 2-3 weeks of special training at the TurkVO test sites. And finally, on-site pilots were put into operation during 10 days. Later, the Afghan experience was introduced into the practice of combat training by the Air Force, and the regiments were transferred to the DRA without special training. The newcomer pilots who arrived, were introduced to the local conditions by pilots from the alternating group, taking them out on the Su-17UM “backs”.

The widespread use of aviation required the precise organization of its interaction with its troops and the precise determination of the location of the enemy. However, pilots of supersonic fighter-bombers, equipped with the most modern equipment, often could not independently find unobtrusive targets on a monotonous mountainous area, among gorges and passes. For this reason, one of the first large-scale operations conducted in the Panjsher River Valley in April 1980 (known as the first Panjshir) was planned without the involvement of aircraft. The three Soviet and two Afghan battalions that participated in it were supported only by artillery and helicopters.

Su-22M4 of the Afghan 355 th regiment. During the war years, the identification marks of the DRA repeatedly changed shape, retaining the primary colors: red (ideals of socialism), green (loyalty to Islam) and black (color of the earth)


To improve the efficiency of aviation operations and to facilitate the work of the pilots, preliminary reconnaissance of objects of future raids should have been done. Its first performed MIG-21R and Yak-28R later - Su-17M3R equipped with outboard intelligence containers KKR-1 / T and KKR-1 / 2 with a set of aerial cameras for routine, perspective and a panoramic shooting, infrared (IR) and radio ( RT) means of detection. Especially important was the role of intelligence in the preparation of large operations for the destruction of fortified areas and "clearing the area." The obtained information was put on photo plates, where the location of the enemy’s air defense targets and means, features of the terrain, and characteristic landmarks were indicated. This facilitated the planning of strikes, and the pilots could familiarize themselves in advance with the area and decide on the accomplishment of the task. Before the start of the operation, additional exploration was carried out, which made it possible to finally clarify the details.

Tense combat work forced to reduce aircraft maintenance time. While the pilot was having dinner, this Su-17М4Р managed to fill with fuel, recharge cameras and heat trap tapes, replace worn wheel pneumatics


Night photography of gorges and passes (and the revival in the camps of the Mujahideen, the movement of caravans with weapons and the exit to the positions took place mostly covertly at night) with illumination by luminous bombs (SAB) and the photo chuck FP-100 turned out to be ineffective. Many sharp shadows that appeared in the mountains under artificial light made the use of UA-47 aerial cameras almost useless - the resulting images could not be decrypted. Rescued integrated intelligence using infrared equipment and radio system CPC-13, intersecting the work of enemy radio stations. The advanced infrared equipment “Winter” made it possible at night to detect even traces of a passing car or an extinct bonfire by residual heat radiation. While preparing for “day work,” 4-6 reconnaissance aircraft Su-17М3Р and Su-17М4Р worked around Kabul, Bagram and Kandahar at night.

The appearance of scouts in the sky did not promise the Mujahideen anything good. As a rule, attack aircraft flew after them, and the scouts themselves usually carried weapons that allowed them to independently carry out a “hunt” in a given area. At the same time, the aircraft of the leader, in addition to the reconnaissance container, carried a pair of heavy NAR C-24, and the follower - 4 NAR C-24 or bombs.

By 1981, military operations in Afghanistan had acquired a scale that required the use of large groups of aircraft. Due to the difficulties of basing on the territory of the DRA (mainly, a small number of airfields and problems with the supply of ammunition and fuel), the concentration of aircraft involved in strikes was carried out at the aerodromes of TurkVO. Su-17s made up a significant share there, which favorably differed from other airplanes by a significant combat load and greater efficiency when operating on ground targets. The "skipped" through Afghanistan regiments Su-17 were located on the airfields of Chirchiq, Mary, Kalai-Mur and Kokayty. The “local” regiments of the 49-th BA worked “behind the river” almost constantly and in case of delays with the planned replacement of parts turned out to be in the DRA “out of turn”.

Work from TurkVO bases required the installation of suspended fuel tanks (PTB) on the Su-17, which reduced the combat load. It was necessary to revise the used weapons in favor of the most effective. Su-17 began to be equipped with high-explosive and high-explosive fragmentation bombs (FAB and OFAB) mainly with 250 caliber and 500 kg (previously used weave were not powerful enough for strikes in the mountains). The MBMS-U6-68 multi-castle bomb racks, each of which could carry up to six bombs, were rarely used - it was simply impossible to lift a large amount of ammunition in the heat, optimizing their suspension on one and a half hundred kilogram MBDs. Su-17 Bomb ligaments and single-use RBC bomb cassettes were widely used on the Su-17, which were “sown” with several hectares of fragmentation or ball bombs. They were especially effective in conditions where every stone and crevice became a shelter for the enemy. Insufficiently powerful 57-mm NAR C-5 was replaced with new 80-mm NAR C-8 in blocks B-8М. The weight of their warhead was increased to 3,5 kg, and the launch range allowed to hit the target without entering the zone of anti-aircraft fire. Usually, the Su-17 combat load was determined on the basis of reliable performance of the mission and the possibility of a safe landing in the event of a malfunction (according to the landing weight of the aircraft) and did not exceed 1500 kg - three "five hundred meters".

A pair of Su-17М4Р scouts at Bagram aerodrome before departure. The lead aircraft carries the container KKR-1 / T. The task of the slave is to conduct visual reconnaissance and bind to landmarks.


The summer heat not only reduced the engine thrust and equipment reliability, but the pilots could not wait for a long time to depart in hot booths. Therefore, whenever possible, flights were planned for early morning or at night. Some types of ammunition were "capricious": incendiary tanks, NAR and guided missiles had temperature limitations and could not stay on the suspension for a long time under the scorching sun.

An important task was also preventive actions aimed at the destruction of caravans with ammunition and weapons, the destruction of mountain trails and passes, through which the Mujahideen could get to the protected objects. Powerful FAB-500 and dropped by a volley of FAB-250 caused mountain falls in the mountains, making them impassable, they were also used to destroy rock shelters, warehouses and protected firing points. Typical weapons when departing to the “hunt” for caravans were two rocket units (UB-32 or B-8M) and two bomb cassettes (RBC-250 or RBC-500) or four NAR C-24, and in both versions two were suspended PTB-800.

On the side of the enemy were a good knowledge of the terrain, support for the population, ability to use natural shelters and disguise. Opposition detachments moved quickly and quickly spread out in case of danger. To find them from the air was not easy even on a tip because of the lack of characteristic landmarks on a monotonous terrain. In addition, airplanes and helicopters are increasingly stumbled upon anti-aircraft fire. On average, an emergency landing on 1980 took place on 830 flight hours or approximately on 800 - 1000 departures (and there were very few places suitable for landing a wounded aircraft).

To increase combat survivability, the design and systems of the Su-17 were constantly being finalized. Damage analysis showed that the engine, its aggregates, fuel and hydraulic systems, and aircraft control often fail. The complex of improvements carried out included the installation of overhead ventral armor plates that protected the drive box, the generator and the fuel pump; filling the fuel tanks with polyurethane foam and pressurizing them with nitrogen, which prevented the ignition and explosion of fuel vapors when fragments and bullets hit them; Changes in the design of the ASP-17 sight, which protected it from overheating. The defect in the design of the brake parachute was also eliminated, the fastening lock of which sometimes broke off, and the plane rolled out of the runway and received damage. Rescued the strength of the structure and endurance Su-17. There were cases when the damaged vehicles returning from a combat mission flew off the strip and buried in the ground along the very “belly”. They managed to recover on the spot and re-commissioned. The AL-21F-3 engines worked reliably even in Afghan-bearing sand and stones, transferring nicks of compressor blades and unthinkable under normal conditions, and contaminated fuel (pipelines stretched from the Soviet border for its delivery were constantly fired upon, undermined, and even just uncleanly hunt up to free fuel by local people).

To reduce the losses, new recommendations were made on the tactics of combat use of aircraft. It was recommended to approach the target from a great height and speed, with a dive at an angle of 30-45 °, which made it difficult for the enemy to aim and reduced the effectiveness of anti-aircraft fire. At speeds in excess of 900 km / h and heights above 1000, the Su-17 combat damage was generally excluded. To achieve surprise, it was prescribed that the strike be carried out at once, combining the launch of missiles with bombs in one attack. True, the accuracy of such a bomb strike was reduced by half due to the high altitude and speed, which had to be compensated by an increase in the number of attack group airplanes that reached the target from different directions, if the terrain allowed.

By 1981, the saturation of combat areas with anti-aircraft weapons reached such proportions that when planning operations it was necessary to take into account the need to overcome them. Around the fortified areas and the bases of the Mujahideen there were up to several dozen anti-aircraft fire points. The risk reduction was achieved by the skillful use of the terrain, which ensured the approach and the suddenness of reaching the target, as well as the choice of escape routes after the attack.

As a rule, the first Su-17 pair appeared in the designated area, the task of which was supplementary exploration and target designation by lighting or smoke bombs, which simplified the striking group to reach the target. They were piloted by their most experienced pilots who had combat experience and skills in detecting subtle objects. The search for the enemy was carried out at an altitude of 800 - 1000 m and speeds of 850 - 900 km / h, taking about 3 - 5 minutes. Then everything was decided by the speed of the strike, which did not give the enemy the opportunity to organize a return fire.

After a minute or two, the air defense suppression group from the 2-6 Su-17 came to the SAB target. From the height of 2000-2500, they detected the positions of the DShK and ZGU, and with a dive they struck with NAR C-5, C-8 and RBC-250 or RBC-500 cassettes. The destruction of anti-aircraft points was carried out both by a single plane and by a pair - the slave "finished off" air defense centers. Not letting the enemy come to his senses, after 1 - 2 minutes, a main strike group appeared on the target, performing an attack on the move. Bombs of FAB (OFAB) -250 and -500, missiles С-8 and С-24 attacked the fortifications and rock structures. Reliable and easy to operate, the C-24 had a great range and launch accuracy (especially from a dive) and was used very widely. RBC-250 and RBC-500 cluster munitions were used to combat manpower. In actions in “Zelenka” and in open places, incendiary tanks with fire mixture were sometimes used. The guns gradually lost their meaning - their fire at high speeds turned out to be ineffective.

To re-attack the aircraft performed a maneuver with a divergence, rising to 2000 - 2500 m, and again struck a blow from different directions. After the strike group had withdrawn, scouts again appeared on the target, carrying out an objective control of the BSHU results. The fulfillment of the task should be documented - otherwise, ground troops could expect unpleasant surprises. When performing particularly powerful air raids, photocontrol was performed by an An-30 specially called from the Tashkent airfield. His photographic equipment made it possible to make a multispectral survey of the terrain and accurately determine the degree of destruction. Reliable radio communication with KP and coordination of actions was ensured by the An-26PT airborne repeater aircraft.

Testing engine Su-17М4


Su-17 fighters-bombers in Afghanistan
Afghan Su-22М4 differed from Su-17М4 only in the onboard equipment


If the strike was performed to support ground units, increased accuracy was required, since the targets were near their troops. In order to organize interaction with aviation, air force airborne bombers were assigned to ground units, who established contact with the pilots and indicated to them the position of the leading edge by launching flares or smoke bombs. Attacks with the support of ground troops continued until 15-20 minutes. With the help of aeronautical attackers were struck and calls to suppress the newly detected firing points. To ensure the secrecy of the maneuver of the troops or to cover their withdrawal, the Su-17 was also involved as producers of smoke screens. To assess the effectiveness of the attacks, the pilots, no later than 5-10 minutes after landing, when the impressions were still fresh, had to submit a written report to the regiment headquarters, which was immediately transmitted to the Air Force command post.

Another task of the Su-17 was the mining of dangerous areas and mountain trails from the air. Along with the destruction of the passes by bombing their mining, the mojahedin made movement difficult, depriving the enemy of the mobility and surprise of the attack. For this purpose, small cargo containers of KMGU were used, each of which could carry up to 24 minutes. The scattering of mines Su-17 produced at a speed of about 900 km / h.

When performing combat missions, there were also disadvantages, which reduced the effectiveness of the BSHU and increased the risk of damage and losses. Thus, during the development of the Afghan theater of operations, the pilots, having completed several successful sorties, tended to overestimate their forces, underestimate the enemy (especially his air defense) and began to carry out attacks monotonously, without taking into account the characteristics of the terrain and the nature of the targets. The dropping of bombs was not carried out according to a single method, which led to their dispersion. Several Su-17 units were even returned to the bases due to the low accuracy of the strikes and the danger of hitting their troops. So, in the summer of 1984 near Kandahar, the leader of the Su-17 group, who refused to help the aircraft manufacturer, mistakenly dropped bombs on his infantry battalion. Four people died and nine were injured.

Another disadvantage was the frequent lack of accurate data on enemy air defense (according to intelligence information, in the base areas of the Mujahideen in 1982 there were up to 30-40 anti-aircraft weapons, and in strong points - up to 10). Anti-aircraft guns and ZGU were camouflaged, hid in shelters and quickly put forward to firing positions. The regularity of attacks and delaying the processing time of the target in such conditions became dangerous. In the Kandahar region in the summer of 1983, the Su-17 was shot down while performing the sixth (!) Approach to the target. Other causes of losses were piloting errors and equipment failures.

The increased tension of battles led to heavy loads on pilots and aircraft technicians. Specialists from the Research Institute of Aerospace Medicine, who studied the "human factor", determined that excessive body loads during 10-11 months of intense combat missions lead to "significant functional shifts and impairments in the cardiovascular and motor systems; in 45% of pilots, overwork and disturbances of normal mental activity are noted. ” Heat and dehydration led to significant weight loss (in some cases up to 20 kg) - people literally dried out in the sun. Doctors recommended reducing the flight load, reducing the waiting time before departure and creating favorable conditions for rest. In fact, the only implemented recommendation was to comply with the maximum permissible flight load defined in 4 - 5 sorties per day. In fact, the pilots had to perform sometimes before 9 departures.

Based on the accumulated experience, mixed groups were formed, consisting of fighter-bomber, attack aircraft and helicopters, complementing each other in the search and destruction of the enemy. With their use in December 1981, a thoroughly prepared operation was carried out to destroy the “local government” Islamic committees in Foriab province, which organized armed resistance to Kabul. In addition to the ground forces, airborne troops (1200 people) and 52 airplanes were involved: 24 Su-17М3, 8 Su-25, 12 MiG-21 and 8 An-12. From army aviation, 12 Mi-24D, 40 Mi-8T and 8 Mi-6, as well as 12 Afghan Mi-8T participated in the operation. The whole operation was prepared in strict secrecy - there was already experience in attacking empty places in cases when Afghan staff officers participated in the development of plans. In this case, a legend was developed for them, and only for 2 - 3 hours the Afghan military was given true information.

Scout Su-17М3Р with a container of integrated intelligence KKR-1 / 2 for infrared and television shooting (after returning from Afghanistan)


"The eyes of the army" - Su-17М4Р reconnaissance with a container of radio engineering and photo reconnaissance KKR-1/ T


The scale of the operation required, in addition to the air defense suppression group of the MiG-21 aircraft, the separation of three attack groups numbered for 8 Su-17М3 (the first of them was also attached to 8 Su-25, especially effective when storming) armed with FAB-250 and RBC-250 with ball bombs. This time the blow was dealt not only with weapons depots, air defense positions and support bases of armed units. The headquarters of the Islamic committees, residential buildings where the Mujahideen could be hiding, and rural schools where “anti-cabul propaganda” was carried out were subject to destruction. After the departure of the strike groups, the terrain was “processed” by the Mi-24D, they also provided fire support for the landing of assault forces with the Mi-8T and Mi-6. Despite the low clouds, the actions of aviation helped to achieve success - the base in the area ceased to exist. Losses amounted to one Mi-24D and two Mi-8T, shot down by fire DShK.

In April 1982, a similar operation to destroy the base district of the Mujahideen was carried out in Rabati Jali (Nimroz province), and on May 16, hostilities began to clear the Panjshir River valley from armed groups. They were attended by 12 people, 000 tanks, BMP and armored personnel carriers, 104 helicopters and 26 aircraft. The success of the second panjshir operation was ensured by Su-17 scouts, who for 10 days conducted aerial photography of the area of ​​upcoming operations, having shot about 2000 sq. M for detailed photo plates. km of terrain.

The Afghan campaign has become the scale of a real war, in which aviation had to perform various combat missions. Su-17 bombers from Afghan airfields and TurkVO bases destroyed the enemy’s facilities and bases, directly supported the troops, covered reconnaissance and airborne forces, conducted reconnaissance, air mining, target designation and smoke screens. When attacking and attacking from low altitudes, Su-25, with better maneuverability and security, were more often used. However, the success of the next military operation turned around the strengthening of the opposition and active response attacks. The hopelessness of continuing the war became obvious, but Babrak Karmal was very negative about its ending. Despite efforts to clear the provinces of the armed detachments of the Mujahideen and planting “people's power”, only large cities and patrolled zones around airfields, military units and some roads were under control. The map on which the pilots indicated the recommended places of forced landing and ejection, spoke eloquently about who is actually the master of the situation.

This was well seen by the Afghan pilots (on the “dry” fleet of the 355 th air regiment stationed in Bagram), who were not enthusiastic about combat work. They rarely rose into the air, mostly not to lose their piloting skills. According to one of the Soviet advisers, the participation of the elite of the Afghan army - the pilots - in the battles "looked more like a circus, not a job." To be fair, I must say that among them there were courageous pilots who were not inferior in flight training to Soviet pilots. That was the deputy commander of the Afghan Air Force, whose family was slaughtered by the Mujahideen. He was shot down twice, he was seriously injured, but he continued to fly Su-17 a lot and willingly.

If the Afghan comrades in arms had only fought badly - that would have been half the trouble. High-ranking government air force officials gave the enemy details of upcoming operations, while the rank and file pilots flew over to neighboring Pakistan. 13 June 1985 in Shindand, the Mujahideen, having bribed the Afghan guard of the airfield, blew up 13 government MiG-21 and six Su-17 in the parking lots, seriously damaging 13 aircraft.

At the beginning of the Afghan epic, armed opposition groups left for the winter abroad to rest and re-form. The tension of the fighting during this period usually subsided. However, by 1983, the opposition had created many support bases, which made it possible to fight all year round. In the same year, the Mujahideen had a new weapon - portable anti-aircraft missile systems (MANPADS), which changed the character of the air war. Light, mobile and highly efficient, they could hit planes at altitudes up to 1500. MANPADS were easily delivered to any area and were used not only to cover the bases of armed detachments, but also to organize ambushes at airfields (before attempts to attack them were limited to shelling from afar) . Ironically, the first MANPADS were Soviet-made Strela-2 from Egypt. In 1984, 50 missile launches were noted, six of which reached the target: three aircraft and three helicopters were shot down. Only shot down by an “arrow” directly above Kabul in November 1984. Il-76 convinced the command of the need to deal with the increased danger. By 1985, the number of air defenses detected by intelligence increased by 2,5 times compared to 1983, and by the end of the year increased by 70%. A total of 1985, 462 identified zenith points.

Su-17М4 carries three high-explosive "five hundred" FAB-500М62


Scout Su-17 is night photography of the Zingar mountain plateau near Kabul with SAB backlit. Outbreaks above - DShK anti-aircraft machine gun route


In order to overcome the growing threat when planning flights, safe routes were chosen whenever possible, it was recommended to leave the target from directions not covered by air defense, and to carry out the attack for a minimum time. Flight to the target and back should be performed along different routes at altitudes of at least 2000 m, using the terrain. In dangerous areas, the pilots were instructed to monitor possible launches of "arrows" (at this time all MANPADS were called "arrows", although other types were encountered - the American "Red I" and the English "Bloupip") and avoid being hit by an energetic maneuver, going towards the sun or dense clouds. On the most dangerous parts of the flight - during takeoff and landing, when the planes had low speed and insufficient maneuverability, they were covered by helicopters patrolling the area around the airfield. MANPADS missiles were induced by the thermal radiation of aircraft engines, and their destruction could be avoided with the help of powerful heat sources — IR traps with a thermite mixture. Since 1985, they were equipped with all types of airplanes and helicopters used in Afghanistan. At Su-17, a set of modifications was made to install ASO-2В beams, each of which carried an X-NUMX PPI-32 (LO-26) cutter. Initially, 56 beams were installed above the fuselage, then 4, and finally, their number increased to 8. In the gargrote behind the cabin, 12 of more powerful LO-12 cartridges were also installed. In the zone of the enemy's air defense and during takeoff / landing, the pilot turned on the automatic trap shooting, the high burning temperature of which distracted the self-guided "arrows". To simplify the work of the pilot, the ASO control was soon brought to the "combat" button - when launching rockets or dropping bombs over a defensive air defense, the target automatically began shooting the SPD. The sortie of the aircraft not equipped with squibs was not allowed.

Another way to protect against MANPADS was to include in the strike group of aircraft the "umbrella" of the SAB, which in themselves were powerful sources of heat. Sometimes Su-17 was engaged for this, conducting additional exploration of the target. Large heat traps could be dropped from KMGU, after which the striking planes would hit the target, “diving” under the SAB slowly descending on parachutes. The measures taken have significantly reduced losses. In 1985, a forced landing due to combat damage occurred during 4605 flying hours. Compared to 1980, this indicator has improved 5,5 times. For the entire 1986, anti-aircraft guns “got” only one Su-17М3, when a young pilot in a dive “dived” to 900 m and DShK bullets pierced the side of the engine nozzle.

An analysis of the losses in 1985 showed that 12,5% of the aircraft were shot down from machine guns and light machine guns, 25% by fire from DShK, 37,5% by fire from PGI and 25% by MANPADS. It was possible to reduce losses by further increasing the height of flights and using new types of ammunition. The powerful NAR of the C-13 salvo launch and the heavy NAR C-25 were launched from a distance of .4 km, they were stable in flight, accurate and fitted with proximity fuses, which increased their efficiency. The main defense was the departure to great heights (up to 3500-4000 m), which made the use of NAR less effective, and the main type of weapons of fighter-bombers were bombs.

In Afghanistan, for the first time in a combat situation, space-detonating aerial bombs (ODAB) and combat units were applied to missiles. The liquid substance of such a munition was scattered in the air when it hit the target, and the resulting aerosol cloud was undermined, striking the enemy with a large volume of hot blast shock wave, and the maximum effect was achieved during an explosion in cramped conditions that retained the power of the fireball. Such places - mountain gorges and caves - served as shelters for armed detachments. In order to place the bombs in an inaccessible place, bombing was used from a cabre: the plane went upwards from the zone of antiaircraft fire, and the bomb, describing a parabola, fell to the bottom of the gorge. Special types of ammunition were also used: for example, in the summer of 1988, the Su-17 from Mary broke the rock fortifications with concrete bombs. Corrected bombs and guided missiles were more often used by Su-25 attack aircraft, which were more suitable for action against pinpoint targets.

Air raids were conducted not only by “skill”, but also by “number”. According to experts on the armament of the headquarters of TurkVO, since 1985, more bombs were dropped on Afghanistan every year than during the entire Great Patriotic War. The daily consumption of bombs only at Bagram airbase was two cars. With intensive bombing, which was accompanied by large-scale operations, ammunition went straight from the wheels, brought from manufacturers. With a particularly large expenditure from the warehouses of TurkVO, even preserved old bombs from the thirties were brought down. The bombers of modern aircraft were not suitable for their suspension, and gunsmiths had to, by drenched in sweat, manually adjust the hardened steel eyes of the bombs using hacksaws and files.

One of the most intense operations with the widespread use of aviation was the 1987-January 1988 “Magistral”, which was held in December, to unlock Khost. The fights were fought in the territories controlled by the Jadran tribe, which in no time recognized either the king, the shah, or the Kabul government. Pakistan’s province of Paktiya and Khost district were saturated with the most modern weapons and powerful fortifications. For their detection in the fortified areas, a false airborne assault force was landed and powerful air strikes were made at the firing points that had found themselves. During the raids it was noted before 60 rocket launches on attacking aircraft per hour. With such a density of anti-aircraft fire, the pilots have not yet had to meet. The large-scale operation involved Soviet soldiers 20000, the losses amounted to 24 killed and 56 injured.

January 1989 Propulsion Su-17М4Р until the last days ensured the withdrawal of troops from the DRA


The protracted war was fought only for its own sake, absorbing more and more forces and means. The end to it was not at all by military means, and from 15 May 1988, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan began. To cover it on the airfields of TurkVO, powerful aviation forces pulled together. In addition to the front and army aviation - Su-17, Su-25, MiG-27 and Su-24, long-range bombers Tu-22М3 were attracted to raids on Afghanistan. The task was unequivocal - to prevent the breakdown of the withdrawal of troops, the shelling of the departing columns and attacks on abandoned objects. To this end, it was necessary to prevent the movement of armed detachments, to disrupt their access to advantageous positions, to make preemptive strikes at their deployment sites, to bring disorganization and to demoralize the enemy.

The effectiveness of each departure "beyond the river" was no longer discussed - the assigned tasks were to be carried out quantitatively, "rolling out" reserves from all district stocks of aviation ammunition to the Afghan mountains. The bombing was conducted from high altitudes, because according to intelligence data, by the fall of 1988, the opposition already had 692 MANPADS, 770 PGI, 4050 DShK. At the Su-17, participating in the raids, the long-range radio system (RSDN) was modified, providing automated target exit and bombing. The accuracy of such a strike was not great, and in the summer of 1988, during one of the raids, bombs “covered” the field headquarters of the Afghan motorized infantry division.

The second phase of the withdrawal began on August 15. In order to avoid unnecessary casualties at the end of the war, they decided to increase the intensity of the bombing of the areas of expected Mujahideen concentration and with constant strikes to accompany the exit of the columns, disrupting the connection between the opposition units and the approach of caravans with weapons (more than a hundred were observed in October). For this, nightly departures by the 8,12,16 and 24 Su-17 groups were widely used with access to the specified area using the RSDN at high altitude and conducting navigation (area) bombing. The strikes were delivered throughout the night at different intervals, exhausting the enemy and keeping him in constant tension with close breaks of powerful bombs. Two flights per night and became common for pilots. In addition, the night illumination of the area along the roads was carried out using the SAB.

By the winter, security at the section connecting Kabul with Hairaton on the Soviet-Afghan border was particularly important. The Panjsher and South Salang areas were controlled by Ahmad Shah Massoud's squads, the Panjshir Lion, the leader of the independent and far-sighted. The command of the 40 Army managed to agree with him about the unimpeded passage of Soviet columns, for which Lieutenant-General B. Gromov even suggested to Massoud "to support the armed detachments of Panjshir at their request with artillery and aviation support" in the fight against other groups. The truce was thwarted by Afghan government units that constantly provocatively bombarded villages along the roads, causing return fire. Fighting could not be avoided, and 23 - 24 in January 1989 began continuous air raids on South Salang and Jabal-Ussarj. The strength of the bombing attacks was such that the inhabitants of the nearby Afghan villages left their homes and moved closer to the roads along which trucks and military vehicles reached the border.

The withdrawal ended 15 February 1989g. Even earlier, the last Su-17М4Р flew to Soviet airfields from Bagram, and the ground equipment was taken to IL-76. But the "dry" still remained in Afghanistan - the 355 th Afghan air regiment continued fighting on the Su-22. The supply of the most modern military equipment and ammunition to the government of Najibullah with the departure of the Soviet troops even expanded. The war continued, and in 1990, by decision of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers, 54 combat aircraft, 6 helicopters, 150 tactical missiles and many other equipment were transferred to Afghanistan. The pilots of the 355 air regiment ahead were still three years of fighting, casualties, participation in the failed insurrection in March of 1990, and the bombing of Kabul during the capture of opposition forces in April of 1992.

The technician puts on board the aircraft another star corresponding to ten sorties. In some shelves, stars were "awarded" for 25 departures.


Su-17М4 at the Bagram airport. Under the wing - high-explosive aerial bombs FAB-500М54, which by the end of the war became the main used ammunition


1. Su- 17М4Р with the integrated reconnaissance container KKR-1 / 2. 16 th reconnaissance air regiment arrived in Afghanistan from Jekabpils (PribO). Bagram Air Base, December 1988. Aircraft regiment carried in the nose of the fuselage emblem: right bat, left Indian.
2. Su-22М4 with bomb cassettes of RBC-500-375 from the 355 air regiment of the Afghan Air Force, Bagram Air Base, August 1988
3. Su- 17MPZ 139 Guards IBAP, who arrived from Borzi (ZabVO) at Shindand air base, spring 1987,
4. Su-17М3 136 th IBAP, arriving from Chirchik (TurkVO) at Kandahar air base, summer 1986. After repair, part of the regiment's aircraft did not have any identification marks, and some stars were marked without edging
Author:
Articles from this series:
Turntables, Afghanistan. "Eight"
Turntables, Afghanistan. MI-24
MiG-21 in Afghanistan
MiG-23 fighters in Afghanistan
Su-25 attack aircraft in Afghanistan
An-12 in Afghanistan
Su-17 fighters-bombers in Afghanistan
6 comments
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  1. ded_73
    ded_73 10 December 2012 11: 37 New
    +8
    Decent work. Many thanks to the author!
  2. biglow
    biglow 10 December 2012 13: 55 New
    +4
    many thanks to the author
  3. Brother Sarych
    Brother Sarych 10 December 2012 15: 24 New
    +6
    As usual - we have been spoiled by this series of excellent materials! Thanks to the author!
    And it’s good that now links to other materials of this author have appeared - thanks for listening to my wish!
  4. freder
    freder 10 December 2012 18: 43 New
    0
    Articles of this level are needed, it’s interesting not only from the technical side, but also develops most myths and stereotypes about the Afghan war inherent in the population of the former USSR .. (it’s even a little strange that the articles were censored on this resource)
  5. flanker7
    flanker7 10 December 2012 21: 52 New
    +5
    Outlining Excellent Article, however, like all the previous ones about the Afghan war. Thank!
  6. Chicot 1
    Chicot 1 10 December 2012 22: 58 New
    +2
    Many thanks to the author and "+" for the material ... good
    But as regards this material, I would like to know the details of the Su-17 shown in the extreme figure (it is indicated by the number "5"). Thanks in advance. yes
  7. aristok
    aristok 27 May 2019 02: 40 New
    0
    I wonder if supersonic was used during the Su-17 sorties.
    The same applies to the use of Su-24 and MiG-23 in Afghanistan.
  8. tima_ga
    tima_ga 9 August 2019 23: 43 New
    0
    Recently watched the movie The Lunging Brotherhood. There at the beginning of the MANPADS they shoot down the Su-17, which literally crept along the bottom of the gorge, which is very strange ...