The Sukhoi Su-25TM, is about to begin flight testing with the Kopyo podded radar

Alexander Velovich/MoscowDouglas Barrie/London

The Russian air force is about to begin flight tests of the radar-equipped Sukhoi Su-25TM from its Ahktubinsk flight-test centre, while pilot instructors at the Lipetsk combat-training centre work up a training syllabus flying several Su-25Ts, an earlier upgrade of the Frogfoot.

Along with testing of the pod-mounted Phazotron Kopyo multi-mode radar, the Su-25TM has also been used for test firings of an imaging-infra-red-guided air-to-surface missile (IIRASM), according to Vladimir Babak, chief designer on the Su-25TM programme.

The TM upgrade variant of the Su-25 Frogfoot is intended to provide frontal-aviation units with an all-weather night-attack capability. Coupled together, the Ahktubinsk and Lipetsk activities indicate that the air force is pushing ahead with trying to acquire Su-25TMs.

One combat lesson reinforced for the air force during the Chechen conflict was the need for an all-weather ground-attack capability.

Babak says that the Kopyo radar is now being integrated with the Su-25TM, with ground testing of the radar and the aircraft's weapons control system already under way.

The IIRASM was tested, in association with the Khod thermal-imaging laser-designator pod, developed by Geophysica. No details of the IIR ASM have been released, although an IIR version of the Kh-25 (the AS-10 Karen/ AS-12 Kegler family) was associated with the Khod pod.

The Khod system is regarded only as a concept demonstrator, with a much smaller imaging/laser-designator system now in development. Given the age of the Kh-25 family the IIRASM is likely to be a new missile, perhaps associated with the Kh-38 designator.

Babak says that the initial Su-25TM flight tests with the radar will be concentrated on air-to-air modes, with ground-mapping and other air-to-surface modes to be explored later.

Source: Flight International