Air Platforms

Russia’s Su-25SM3 ‘deep upgrade’ programme gains pace and scope

19 June 2019

The Russian MoD is upgrading its fleet of Sukhoi Su-25 CAS aircraft to the Su-25SM3 standard, like the one pictured preparing for take-off at the Russian air force base in Krasnodar Krai in the Southern Military District with an L-370-3S radar jamming pod clearly visible on the outermost wing hardpoint. Source: Russian MoD

The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is upgrading its fleet of Sukhoi Su-25 close air support (CAS) aircraft to the Su-25SM3 standard, a Russian military spokesperson told Jane's on 18 June. "Since 2018, the Aerospace Forces [VKS] have been receiving Su-25SM3s, and a total of 25 aircraft have already been delivered," he said, adding that "a large part" of operational Su-25s would be upgraded.

According to the spokesperson, the Su-25SM3s are being delivered mainly to the Southern Military District (SMD). "In 2018, the SMD began receiving modernised Su-25s. This spring, the district's 4th Air Force and Air Defence Army in Stavropol Krai received eight Su-25SM3s, and one more batch of these platforms will be delivered before the end of the year," he said.

"Deliveries of the Su-25SM3 to other districts are also planned. The MoD is upgrading these CAS aircraft in batches of four to five platforms each," said the spokesperson.

Unlike the baseline Su-25 and its incrementally upgraded variant, the Su-25SM, both of which have a rather outdated Klen-PS laser target designator in the nose, the Su-25SM3 has been upgraded with the new SOLT-25 electro-optics nose module. The SOLT-25 provides 16× zoom and features a laser range finder and target designator, thermal imager, TV channels, and the ability to track moving targets in all weather up to 8 km away.

In addition, the Su-25SM3 comes with the Vitebsk-25 protection suite, which integrates a set of Zakhvat forward and rearward facing missile approach warning ultraviolet sensors, the L-150-16M Pastel radar homing and warning system, two UV-26M 50 mm chaff dispensers, and a pair of wing-mounted L-370-3S radar jamming pods. Furthermore, the Su-25SM3 has been upgraded with the new PrNK-25SM-1 Bars targeting-and-navigation system and the KSS-25 communication system with Banker-8-TM-1 antenna.

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