The Russian Aerospace Forces, deployed on the Hmeymim airbase, will receive four Su-25SM3 fighter bombers in August or early September of this year.
In late summer of this year, the newest Russian Su-25SM3 fighter bombers will be dispatched to the Hmeymim airbase in Syria and join operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces on the territory of the country, the Izvestiya newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing several informed sources. The main task of the attack planes, equipped with all-weather precise sighting systems, will be destruction of combat vehicles, vehicles and fortifications of Syrian terrorists. Protected from enemy’s air defense with the Vitebsk self-defense system, the Su-25SM3 aircraft has already been nicknamed as an “elusive Grach” by pilots.
According to the newspaper’s sources in the Russian Defense Ministry and aircraft industry, four Su-25SM3s would be sent to Syria. Exact dates of the beginning of the detached service of the fighter bombers are still unknown. The sources said that it will be in August or early September.
The Su-25SM3’s heart is the SOLT-25 sighting system. With the help of a camera and thermal scope, the SOLT-25 is capable to detect targets during day and night even in bad weather. Thanks to the SOLT, the bomber can easy destroy motionless buildings and enemy fortifications, as well as military hardware and vehicles, moving with great speed. The Vitebsk self-defense system protects the Su-25SM3 from man-portable air defense systems, such as the Stinger and the Strela, and long-range air defense weapons, such as the Patriot, the Buk and others.
As independent military expert Anton Lavrov noted, the “Russian Aerospace Forces sorely need the Su-25SM3s.”
“It is actually a light bomber, which can perform from five to six sorties per day. For comparison, the Su-34 goes aloft no more than two times per day. Thanks to its sighting systems, the aircraft can very effectively attack an enemy by conventional bombs and precision-guided weapons. At the same time, the fighter bombers are capable to hang in the air over a battlefield almost continuously,” Lavrov told Izvestiya.
In September 2015, ten Su-25SMs and two training Su-25UBs were sent to the Hmeymim airbase. All the aircraft belonged to the 960th Attack Aviation Regiment. By the time of the withdrawal from Syria in the spring of 2016, the planes had performed 3,500 sorties. On average, each fighter bomber spent 250-300 hours in-flight.
On January 12 of this year, four Su-25s were again dispatched to the Hmeymim airbase. The aircraft immediately joined the military operation, carrying out several airstrikes on positions of terrorists of the Islamic State (IS) group, stationed in the area of al-Bab city.