Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot
When the renowned Ilyushin Shturmovik ground attack aircraft was retired in 1956, the Soviet Air Force relied on conventional jet fighters to provide close air support for its ground forces. Interest in finding a replacement for the Shturmovik was rekindled when the USAF began to develop the A-10 in the 1960s. In 1969 Sukhoi OKB’s design proposal for the Su-25 was accepted and the T8 prototype first flew in February 1975. The design included a large offensive payload and the extensive use of armour plating to protect the pilot and the engines from battle damage.
The Su-25 entered Soviet Air Force service in 1980 and proved very successful against the Mujahideen guerrillas in Afghanistan. Given the NATO reporting name ‘Frogfoot’, the Su-25 was built in several different single-seat and two-seat versions, the most numerous being the Su-25 single-seat close support aircraft and the Su-25UB two-seat combat trainer. Development of the re-engined and extensively modified Su-25T single-seat version was curtailed when the Cold War ended. A small number of Su-25s were exported to countries outside the USSR including: Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, North Korea, Angola and Iraq. The exact number of aircraft produced is not known, but is thought to have been approximately 1,200.