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Su-39 Frogfoot (Su-25T or Su-25TM)

The Su-39 (also known as the Su-25T or Su-25TM) is a Frogfoot variant incorporating post-Afghanistan lessons-learned. Considering the combat experience of using the attack aircraft, the Su-25 modification conception was designed and implemented, and realized in Su-39 attack airplane. The conception provided the extension of its combat functions, and high level of effectiveness in achieving the main purpose destruction of single mobile targets of "tank", "armored troop-carrier" and "ship" types.

In 1976 Design Bureau started work to produce a "tank buster" version of the attack aircraft Su-25T (T-8M) designed for antitank warfare. In the course of subsequent work, efforts were focused on making the plane capable of round-the-clock deployment. With this end in view, it was equipped with a highly automated electro-optical aiming system Shkval and a sophisticated antitank weapons system Vikhr. The first flight on the prototype aeroplane, T8M-1, was performed on 17th August 1984 by the design bureau's test pilot A.N. Isakov. In the period 1984-87, the three prototype planes were used to perform flight development tests, and official testing of the aeroplane took place in 1988-92. In 1989-91, Tbilisi produced a development batch of planes, with the first production Su-25T flight tested at the plant on 26th July 1990 by test pilot V.P. Korostiyev. At the beginning of the '90s, NPK Shturmoviki Sukhogo, or the Sukhoi Attack Aircraft Research-and-Production Facility, attempted to launch a project to develop a Su-25T-based attack aircraft under the name of Su-39. The Ulan-Ude factory put in place production arrangements and made first two pre-production planes.

The Su-39 (also known as the Su-25T or Su-25TM) is a Frogfoot variant incorporating post-Afghanistan lessons-learned. It is based on the Su-25UB two-seat trainder, with the rear seat and cockpit replaced with a fuel cell and extra avionics. The Su-39 carries the Kopyo-25 multi mode radar in a pod under the fuselage. Armament includes ground attack missiles such as the AT-16 Vikhr , anti-ship missiles, and AAMs such as the R-27, R-27ER, R-60, R-73 and R-77. A four-fold reduction in thermal signature has been achieved through cooling intakes on the upper surface of aircraft, and a new center body which masks hot turbine blades. Only a few dozen of these aircraft have been built.

The complexes of combat armament, break-through devices of air defense systems and electronic warfare, designed for this very airplane create a perfect anti-tank (anti-ship) strike complex, the effectiveness of which for ground and sea targets exceeds the existing analogues among domestic and foreign airplanes. Reliable engines R-195, good maneuverability, equipment for automatic mode flights, armored protection of the pilot and main airplane components, dual fuel supply system and many other things provide the iv.on in combat missions, at any time of the day.

The Su-39 is intended for precise destruction of any targets on ground, sea and in the air located up to 900 km from home aerodromes day and night, in VFR and IFR of the weather conditions and enemy air defense counteractions. The aircraft features the following characteristics that ensure its highly effective combat use:

  • armament control system that provides for the use of aboard weapons in a horizontal flight, diving, recovery from diving and pitching-up and two different weapon types in one attack:
  • Shkval day/night automatic sight system constituting an optical radar with 23 power magnification of a target and terrain, including a system used for the search, identification, tracking and target designation for Vikhr missiles and weapons with laser guidance system, featuring 0.6 m guidance precision;
  • Kopiye-25 radar sight system operating in a 3 cm band of electromagnetic waves intended for detection and target designation in "air-to-surface", "air-to-air", "air-to-sea" modes of operation and in a cartography mode;
  • navigation aids providing for automatic target approach with up to 15 meter precision irrespective of a flight range.
  • A large number of precision weapons, including "air-to-surface", "air-to-sea", "air-to-air" and "air-to-radar" missiles and all nomenclature of cheap and effective means of destruction: 85-250mm rockets, 30mm guns and air bombs up to 500 kg weighing up to 6,000 kg.
  • The Vikhr antitank missile is the main versatile weapon of the Su-39. The aircraft is armed with 16 such missiles capable of directly hitting a moving tank, rapid boats, rapid maneuvering helicopters and heavy aircraft at a 10 km range.
The electronic countermeasure (ECM) system is intended to carry out electronic reconnaissance and all-directional protection of aircraft in radar and IR band of electromagnetic waves in automatic mode of operation without the pilot's interference. The ECM equipment of the Su-39 is intended for automatic radio reconnaissance and protection of the aircraft against radar and IR electromagnetic waves. It comprises:
  • a radio reconnaissance set used to take bearings of all types of acquisition and fire control radars operating within 1.2 - 1.8 GHz, detect and locate targets;
  • a jammer which produces misleading, noise, discontinuous, and angle deception signals directing enemy weapons to underlying surface;
  • an optronic jammer producing interferences to missile IR heads;
  • a dispenser of IR decoys, misleading enemy antiaircraft missiles, if used as passive interference in combination with the 'cold' engines of the aircraft;
  • decoy air targets used to expose and mislead enemy air defense, airborne radars and guided missiles of all types.

Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant (U-UAP) participated in FIDAE-2006 air show March 27 - April 2, 2006 in capital of Chile - Santiago. Countries of Latin America are interested in the aircraft technics produced by U-UAP. First of all, these are the attack aircraft Su-25UB and Su-39. FSUE "Rosoboronexport" is negotiating with a few customers referring the matters of these aircraf. The Su-25UB attack aircraft is the combat-training version of the legendary Su-25 "Rook" attacker, it is very actively used within recent years in many "hot points" of the different regions of the world. Multipurpose impact complex of all-weather use Su-39 is the "relative" of "Rook", it is its deep modernization. The Su-39 aircraft equipped with more modern in comparison with Su-25 system of armament and airborne radio-electronic equipment. The interest of Latin Americans to Su-25UB and Su-39 attack aircraft is quite understandable. According to the world practice the aircrafts of the Su-25 family are adapted for use during dimensioned military operations and local conflicts, including anti-terror missions.

By 2012 the fate of assault aviation was uncertain. On the one hand, the Air Force made a bet on small numbers of the modernized Su-25SM fighter version. On the other hand, according to Air Force Commander Viktor Bondarev, a new assault aircraft should become available in late 2010s and replace the modernized machines. The production of the Su-25TM (Su-39) was still a possibility. The design of this fighter had been largely unified with the Su-25UBM dual control flight simulator, which was scheduled for production at the Ulan-Ude aircraft plant or the Sokol plant in Nizhny Novgorod. However, no concrete decisions have been made yet.

Russia had decided (so far) not to invest into Kazan Su-39 production, just Su-25SM upgrades, and this meant empty spot (CAS) may be filled by more attack helicopters instead of fixed wing. In 2011, Russian Helicopters announced that it had landed a long-term order from the Russian Defence Ministry for “more than 140” Ka-52 helicopters.

The deliveries of new close air support aircraft to the Russian Air Force will start by 2020, Air Force spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik said. “The Air Force units will start receiving this aircraft by 2020,” Drik said on 21 February 2012 . “It will gradually replace highly-reliable Su-25SM Frogfoot attack planes.” According to Drik, the new aircraft will meet the demands of modern warfare and feature elements of “stealth” technology, the whole range of tactical weaponry, modern radar and navigation equipment.

The "Other" Su-39

The Su-39 designation had reportedly been applied to a totally un-related tandem two seat aircraft with retractable tricycle landing gear, derived from the Su-26 and Su-29 aerobatic competition aircraft. Reports in the mid-1990s that the Su-39 designation had been assigned to a primary trainer, designed to replace the Yak-52, are apparently incorrect.

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Page last modified: 13-02-2014 18:18:13 ZULU