The Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot remains the mainstay of Russian shturmovoy (ground-attack) regiments. The type is broadly analogous to the US A-10 but has been matured into a more sophisticated warplane.
The T-8 prototype made its first flight on 22 February 1975, but type was comprehensively redesigned before series production was authorised. Su-25s flew some 60 000 combat sorties in Afghanistan and this experience led to a range of modifications applied to production aircraft from 1987. Su-25s were also heavily committed to support Russian interventions in Chechnya.
The need for an all-weather and night capable Su-25 with increased range/endurance and survivability led to the Su-25T. This is based on the airframe of the Su-25UB two-seat trainer version with the humped rear cockpit faired over. An early batch of 20 Su-25Ts was built during 1990-1991 in Tbilisi (Georgia). Production was subsequently transferred to Ulan-Ude (Russia). The first Russian-built Su-25T flew in 1995; the variant has since been redesignated Su-25TM or Su-39.
Unusually, the TM carries its Kopyo-25 radar externally in a pod under the fuselage. The 20 Georgian-built Su-25Ts have been upgraded at Ulan-Ude to Su-25TMs. Su-25UBs are similarly being upgraded as Su-25UBMs.
The Russian air force currently operates about 250 Su-25s and is upgrading around 80 to Su-25SM standard using some of the systems developed for the Su-25TM. These will have nose-mounted Kopyo radars.
The Su-25 will reportedly play a major role in the rapid-deployments groups that are being formed in each of the Russian Federation's six military districts. The units will have four Su-25TMs and 12 Su-25SMs. The Su-25TM is offered for export as the Su-25TK.
Many former Soviet republics gained the Su-25 regiments stationed on their territory on break up of the Soviet Union. Such operators comprise Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Georgia (Abkhazia), Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan (in storage) and Uzbekistan. Export Su-25K operators are Angola, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, North Korea, Peru and Slovakia.