Russia Air Force after Georgia, part 2

This blogger is traveling on assignment. Vladimir Karnozov, Flight’s Moscow-based correspondent, presents an after action report from the Russian perspective on the Georgia air war in a five-part series. Here’s Part 2.

Time to restart Su-25 production, but where?

The Sukhoi Su-25 fought on both sides and once again provedan irreplaceable tool of close air support [CAS] for troops on the battlefield.

This mirrors the A-10A case with the USAF, as demonstratedin Iraq and Afghanistan.

Armored attack aircraft with high maneuverability and heavyweapons load remains the best CAS solution. Although the five-day war took aheavy toll on both Russian and Georgian Su-25 inventories, this is, in a sense,another indication of the important role the aircraft played in the conflict.

If any troops experienced “aerophobia” during this war (andquite many surely did), this is a great deal due to the awesome Su-25. TheGeorgian war makes the case even more impressive, knowing that Su-25s fightingon both sides were made by Tbilisiaviation plant!

The enterprise has been without work for more than 15 years,with very vague chances for revival. Besides, many components came to Tbilisi from all over the former Soviet Union, which makes it impossible to re-launch Su-25 productionthere now.

(Admittedly, Georgian government considered this option sometime ago, with intent to place a worthwhile order).

At the same time, Moscow mayconsider restoration of Su-25 production at Ulan-Ude plant, which used to make Su-25UTtwin-seat operational trainer version and Su-25UTG carrier-borne trainer.

The plant still keeps some parts in stock for Su-25UTG andSu-39 (advanced version of Su-25). The Russian navy is known to have requesteda batch of Su-25UTGs to supplement few in service on its only carrier, theAdmiral Kuznetsov.

While the UTG may require nor or little changes, the Su-39must find a new, more modern engine, as well as avionics set, to become worthyof series production.

Some time ago. the Russian air force was looking forsolutions to its need for a “Lightweight Combat Aircraft”. A single seatversion of the Yakovlev Yak-130 fighter trainer was the leading contender.

Can an armed version of a dedicated trainer actually replacewell-armored, purposely designed attack aircraft? Perhaps, it can onlysupplement it.


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