RUSSIA’S GROUND-ATTACK WARBIRD
The Soviet Union was facing a problem in the 1970s. The United States was deploying the A-10 Thunderbolt, which was designed to carry out close-air-support missions, which could decimate the large tank formations that the Soviets were counting on to smash NATO. They needed something similar to inflict similar losses on NATO forces. Their answer was the Su-25, which they call Grach, but which may be better known as Frogfoot. If a war is in the news, more often than not, the Frogfoot is involved.
The Su-25 bears a resemblance to the plane the A-10 beat for the production contract, the Northrop YA-9. The plane was produced in Tblisi, in what is now Georgia. It was equipped with Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-2 cannon, and the ability to carry over 8,800 pounds of bombs. The Frogfoot can also carry 57mm or 80mm rocket pods, missiles like the AS-7 Kerry, AS-10 Karen, and the AS-14 Kedge, while also carrying air-to-air missiles like the AA-8 Aphid.
Unlike the A-10, which never got any export customers, the Su-25 has been exported to a number of countries, including Bulgaria, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola. The Frogfoot has seen combat in multiple wars, including the Ukrainian civil war, the Iran-Iraq War, the First and Second Chechen Wars, Operation Desert Storm, and Russia-Georgia war of 2008.
Su-25s are being upgraded by Russia to the Su-25SM standard. This upgrade will keep the planes flying for years to come. The Su-25SM standard includes new avionics, and adds the AA-11 Archer (also called the R-73).