The reincarnation of the “Rook”, the modernization of the Su-25 attack aircraft

Already at the beginning of World War II, it became clear that the main enemies of attack aircraft were fighters and small-caliber anti-aircraft artillery. And if enemy fighters can tie up their fighters in combat, then it is very difficult to get along without entering the zone of action of the MPA.

This problem has been hanging over attack aircraft so far. That the domestic Su-25, that the American A-10 Thunderbolt II are at risk of being shot down directly above the target. This risk is especially great when using barreled weapons, and for the same A-10, for example, the gun is the main anti-tank weapons. In turn, the use of bombs also forces the attack aircraft to come close enough to the target.

The Soviet experience of hostilities in Afghanistan has shown that the main danger for an attack aircraft in the current war is not cannon armament, but MANPADS. The Americans also made similar conclusions after the “Storm in the Desert” and confirmed them in subsequent conflicts in Asia.
In 2006, the United States adopted a new modification of its aircraft - A-10C. He has the ability to carry guided weapons. First of all, this was done so that the aircraft could “work” on the target, without getting under the anti-aircraft protection systems - MANPADS and machine guns / cannons. In the coming years, the Pentagon intends to retool all existing A-10 into this modification. The financial side of the issue is “total” 420 million dollars. But all-weather "Thunderbolt" add and did not work.

What about us? At about the same time, work began on the modernization of the Su-25. By the end of the 90-x project was prepared, and in the 2000 year began testing an experienced aircraft. The modification with the name Su-25CM received a new sighting equipment - the PrNK-25SM Bars complex, a new cabin equipment, including a full-fledged HUD instead of the old “ordinary” sight. Also, “Grach” in the “SM” version receives a built-in radar RLPK-25SM and equipment for working with the GLONASS system. The goal of all these avionics updates is the ability to fully utilize guided weapons, including in difficult conditions. In particular, it can be air-to-surface missiles of the X-29 family with a range of more than 8-10 km. But the unguided weapon will remain in the attack aircraft arsenal - sometimes it is simply inappropriate to spend an expensive “smart” missile on a target instead of a cheap unguided C-5 or C-8. Of course, if the situation allows. And thanks to the new sighting and navigation system, the Su-25CM has greater accuracy in the use of unguided missiles.

As for the bomb weapons, the new avionics allows bombing in adverse weather conditions, and at night. Moreover, the sighting equipment "sharpened" for such tasks. Another innovation of sighting equipment is the ability to accompany and attack two targets at once in one go.

For self-defense, the Su-25CM can carry and use not only the already familiar short-range air-to-air missile P-60, but also the medium-range missile P-27Р, RVV-AE.

In September, the Chief of the General Staff, N. Makarov, said that the purchase of guided weapons for the Air Force would increase. In the light of the modernization of the Rooks, this statement looks logical and timely. And the producers of this very guided weapon are probably not against new orders. At the same time, Makarov made a reservation that not all available aircraft could work with “smart” weapons.

Now about the volume of future modernization. Currently, the Russian Air Force has about two hundred Su-25 of various modifications. About a hundred more are in storage. The last re-equipment is not planned yet. In addition, four dozen aircraft have already been brought to the version of “SM” in 2007-10. Then it was engaged in 121-th aircraft repair plant in the Old Town (Moscow region). The cost of refitting one aircraft in the 2007 year was about 50 million rubles. Since then, the economic situation has changed and prices have increased - now similar work is estimated at 110-120 million rubles. Nevertheless, this cost of modernization remains profitable. The fact is that airplanes need to be improved, and the construction of a new Su-25CM will cost more than millions in 400. Another argument in favor of upgrading old aircraft is industrial expediency. 121-th ARZ will be able to retool, with which he has already coped well, and for the construction of new aircraft it will be necessary to attract the Ulan-Ude aircraft plant, which is already loaded enough.

In addition to installing new equipment, the overhaul of the aircraft will be carried out during the upgrade, which should increase the Rooks life by 15-20 years. Thus, with timely updates of avionics, Su-25CM will be able to remain in the troops until the end of the 20-s.
Ryabov Kirill
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