The Su-25SM3 is an extensively modified version of the Su-25. The designation is confusing, but the SU-25SM may have been the SM1, and perhaps SM2 is an export version of SM and SM3 is the upgraded version for domestic use. The Su-25SM3 version was developed following the results of flight tests carried out in 2013 and 2014. Su-25SM3 version differs significantly even from upgraded Su-25SM strike-fighters in terms of weapons and avionics suite. Russia's upgrading of Su-25 to SM3 version can extend the aircraft’s operative life for at least another ten years.
The Su-25SM3 attack aircraft is a modernized version of the Su-25, an armored subsonic attack aircraft designed to directly support ground forces over the battlefield day and night with direct line of sight, as well as destroying objects with given coordinates around the clock in any weather conditions. The Su-25SM3 modification received the GLONASS satellite navigation system with the ability to program the end point with an accuracy of up to 10 m of the SVP-24-25 sighting and navigation system (version SVP-24 Gefest), which improves the accuracy of the unguided aviation weapons to the level of a controlled weapon . The aircraft is capable of destroying small ground objects and air targets at any time of the day. The combat effectiveness of the machine has improved three times compared with other modifications.
The lessons learned during the war in Transcaucasia in 2008 were taken into account during upgrading of Su-25. Several Su-25SM aircraft took part in this war and three of them were lost. The vulnerabilities of the strike-fighter have been found out, for example, the jet does not have a tactical EW suite able to countervail the advanced antiaircraft defenses and fighters. In addition, Su-25 is still using only unguided aircraft-launched missiles and general-purpose bombs. There is a possibility of using guided Kh-25 and Kh-29 missiles, but Su-25’s weapon-aiming system does not meet the advanced requirements.
The Su-25 and Su-25SM jets are limited in capabilities under conditions of severe weather and at night. In addition, both aircraft are unable to use bombs adjusted by GLONASS. The experience gained during modern conflicts (for example in Libya) shows that the jet must hit targets without entering the area of coverage of the enemy air defense systems, using high-precision weapons under any weather and lighting conditions.
The Su-25SM3 and Su-25UBM2 (a two-seat operational trainer version) essentially differ from their predecessors in avionics and their suite of airborne weapons.
The upgraded Su-25 is equipped with advanced tactical EW suite “Vitebsk-25” developed by Ekran (Samara). The electronic countermeasure features protect the fighter jet from enemy aircraft by providing countermeasures against different radars and against enemy air-to-air guided missiles.
Besides new tactical EW suite, the upgraded Su-25 is equipped with new encrypted communications system with a range of 1000 km. It helps integrate all the jet’s electronic equipment into a single automatic troop command system. The navigation system has been updated. Its key component is the receiver, which is able to surpass active and passive jamming using GPS-GLONASS channel.
The jet will be fitted with electro-optical thermal imagery camera, which is backing up the work of optical and radioelectronic search and homing systems. The image from the homing head is transmitted to the display located in the cockpit. The upgraded aircraft will be fitted with SUO-39M armament control system and a T-SOK-UBD-130-03 onboard video system for objective monitoring of training and combat actions.
The upgraded attack aircraft will be fitted with the PrNK-25SM-1 sighting and navigation system comprising a BTsU-25S onboard digital computing system, an MFTsI-0332M multifunctional color display, and a SOLT-25 optical-laser remote-thermal-imaging system.
The jet is equipped with the weapon-aiming system allowing usage of Kh-29 guided missiles and KAB-KR aircraft controlled bombs with television guidance. The Su-25SM3 and Su-25UBM2 will be capable of using laser-guided missiles, video-guided missiles, as well as satellite-aided and video-aided guided aerial bombs. Each aircraft will be able to carry two R-73 short-range air-to-air missiles for self-defense. The aircraft can also carry a wide range of unguided bombs and rockets, and will be armed with a 9A623 30mm cannon incorporating a VPU-17A fixed gun mount, along with the standard 250-round ammunition supply.
Su-25SM3 - Program
The upgraded Su-25 strike-fighter was undergoing flight testing in 2012. At that time, serial production was to be started in December 2012 and it will receive a new designation, Izvestiya reported.
The first Su-25SM3 started arriving to the troops, to the base of Southern Military District, in February 2013. Trials of the first two upgraded Sukhoi Su-25SM3 single-seat strike aircraft will start before the end of 2015. "The first two Su-25SM3 aircraft must be commissioned in December. Both aircraft will be shipped for trials. One of them will be delivered to the combat operation and pilot retraining center in Lipetsk for performance evaluation," a Russian defense industry source said.
According to the representative Russian Air Force's Southern Military District [SOUTH], over 60% of pilots had been trained air base on the Su-25SM3. "At present, the newly arrived aircraft completed maintenance work. Su-25SM3 an extensively modified version of the Su-25, and unlike its predecessor, can destroy tiny, movable and stationary ground objects without their visibility by day and night, as well as aerial targets," the representative of the SOUTH said 15 February 2013.
Modernized Su-25SM3, entered service of the Air Force and Air Defense of the Southern Military District (SOUTH) at the beginning of 2013, tested in the mock battles Air Arm pilots SOUTH stationed in New Jersey. Experienced pilots flew more than 25 missions in the group of so-called flight commander. When performing flight tasks crews worked elements of the complex maneuvers, including "loop the loop", vertical, horizontal and oblique "barrel", and the fighting spread to other medium and low altitudes, and interaction in groups during the training battles with aircraft conditional the enemy.
In addition, the pilots had combat bombing on aviapoligonah Target simulating military columns and other military facilities. These flights were conducted in order to improve the group pilots and develop a common teaching methods in the subjects of combat training, according to a release from the press service of the Southern Military District.
A Sukhoi Su-25SM3 crashed 23 September 2013 while on a training mission out of Primorsko-Akhtarsk Airport. The pilot ejected, and the body of the dead pilot found the next day. “At 8:32 a.m. the ground search and rescue team found the body of the pilot in the area where the Su-25 came down,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters. “According to reports from the accident site the pilot tried to land the aircraft on open ground after he had guided it away from nearby towns. The aircraft exploded on contact with the ground,” he added.
The Air Force will continue to modernize Russian Su-25SM3 Grach, Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said on 16 June 2014. “Deliveries to the army have already begun. We will continue the modernization of Su-25SM3, there are no aircraft in the world, which can carry such a load of weapons,” he told journalists.
Russia's Air Force conducted four days of rigorous testing on the Sukhoi SU-25SM3 fighter jet in Kuban 14-17 July 2014. Over 15 jets were involved in the training. The aerial manuvers were designed to seriously challenge both pilot and plane. The drills were conducted at different altitudes, at night, in adverse weather conditions and over mountain terrain. The aviators practiced approaching ground targets covertly before deploying the correct bombs or missiles having received co-ordinates from control. During the manoeuvres, pilots also had to choose the correct reactions when dealing with emergency situations like equipment failure or evading attack from enemy fighters using jamming devices.
The attack aircraft of the 4th Army of the Air Force and Air Defense were replenished with the newest Su-25SM3, which flew from the manufacturer to a military airfield in the Stavropol Territory. This is stated in the press release of the Southern Military District (SKR), distributed on 27 May 2019. “The Su-25SM3 attack aircraft arrived at the aviation unit of the 4th Army of the Air Force and Air Defense in the Stavropol Territory, having covered more than 800 km,” the report said. Now representatives of the engineering services of the regiment check the readiness of all units and mechanisms of the Su-25SM3 for operation in various modes. The press service clarified that at the beginning of May the aviation unit of the 4th Army of the Air Force and Air Defense received three Su-25CM3, thus the formation of a squadron of new attack aircraft in the Stavropol region.
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