TechUkraine downs third Russian Su-25 in a week, signaling a strategic shift

Ukraine downs third Russian Su‑25 in a week, signaling a strategic shift

Damaged Su-25 - illustrative photo
Damaged Su-25 - illustrative photo
Images source: © Ministry of Defense of Russia

6:51 AM EDT, May 14, 2024

The Ukrainian army has reported the downing of another Russian Su-25 aircraft in the Donetsk region, marking the third such incident this week. This underscores the continued efforts and capabilities of Ukrainian forces against ground support aircraft utilized by Russia.
To date, Russia's aircraft losses are believed to be around 350 units. There has been a steady stream of reports from Ukraine detailing the destruction of these assets. Recently, as detailed by the Ukrainian news agency Unian, another Su-25 was brought down, echoing the successes of the preceding days.

Russia's mounting aircraft losses

According to military analyst Oleksij Hetman, the Russian Federation Army's fleet of Su-25 aircraft stands at just under 200. This figure is on a downward trend, a testament to the ongoing targeting of these aircraft. The Su-25, developed for ground attack operations and front-line support, is not known for high performance, especially compared to air superiority fighters.

This renders the Su-25 a valuable asset for Ukraine, aiding ground troops from the air and a viable target. With a maximum altitude of approximately 23,000 feet and a speed under 590 mph, the Su-25 is significantly easier to intercept than the more agile and faster supersonic fighters.

Discussions online imply that the Ukrainian strategy of eliminating Su-25s might be part of a larger plan to incorporate F-16s into their military assets. However, it's essential to recognize the differences between these aircraft types, as the Su-25 does not directly compare with the F-16 in aerial capabilities.

The role of the Su-25 in air support

The inception of the Su-25 dates back to the 1970s, with its maiden flight occurring in 1975 and mass production commencing by 1978. It was never intended to achieve air superiority but was designed for a different battlefield role.

Spanning over 49 feet in length and weighing 22,046 pounds, the Su-25 can carry approximately 9,468 pounds of ammunition across 10 underwing hardpoints. Its primary armament is the GSz-30-2 30 mm cannon. The aircraft is specified to operate at low altitudes, reaching speeds around 590 mph and a ceiling of 23,000 feet.

These operational parameters dictate that the Su-25 must engage near friendly bases, influenced by the basic version's range of about 310 miles. This range allows the aircraft to substantially support infantry and mechanized units in combat scenarios.

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