Tag Archives: Su-25

Fleet-size upgrade Belarusian Air Force

The Belarusian Air Force started to upgrade almost its entire fleet of aircraft. The most ambitious part: to replace the 24 older MiG-29s “Fulcrum” combat jets with state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-30SM “Flanker” aircraft between 2020 and 2030.

Airbrake out on this Belarusian Yak-130 (Image © Irkut)
RELATED POST: Belarus attack strategy – team up Yak-130 with Su-25

During a meeting with journalist from Belarusian state press agency BelTA Major-General Oleg Dvigalev, Chief of Staff of the Belarusian Air Force and Air Defence, said that his people already test-flew the Su-30SM during the recent MAKS International Airshow in Moscow.

Although the general did not say how many Flankers he would like the buy, we at Airheadsfly.com believe that the 13 MiG-29s upgraded to BM standard in the early 2000s will stay a bit longer, while up to 18 Su-30SMs will be purchased. The number is based on earlier statements by the Belarusian military leadership.

Rotary wing
Meanwhile the country’s rotary wing of 20 Mil Mi-35 attack helicopters and 5 Mi-26 heavy-lift choppers is expecting a boost with the arrival of 12 Mi-8MTV-5 choppers, the first six in 2016 and the second batch in 2017. They are an upgraded version of the 18 to 25 Mi-8/Mi-17s the Belarusian Air Force has already on strength and are expected to replace some of them.

Airlift and attack
One of the two Ilyushin IL-76 strategic airlifters is currently being brought back to airworthy status, while the second batch of four Yakovlev Yak-130 light attack and advanced jet trainers has been ordered some time ago. The backbone of the Belarusian Air Force’s ground attack capacity, between 40 and 68 operational Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” jets, will remain in service – as well as two to four Antonov An-26 transport aircraft and a handful of Mil Mi-2 utility helicopters.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The Sukhoi Su-30SM (Cy-30CM) during a test flight (Image © Irkut)

Belarus attack strategy: team up Yak-130 with Su-25

The Belarusian Air Force is implementing a new strategy to make its ground attack raids more successful. With the introduction of the new and modern Yak-130 advanced jet trainer in the light attack role, the Eastern European military sees new possibilities by teaming the new aircraft up with the older Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot”.

On paper such a combined package looks rather good. The highly maneuverable Yak-130 with its contemporary sensors and newer navigation systems in theory serves as an excellent fast armed recon, forward air controller, targeting aircraft and light attack aircraft, while the older Su-25 brings it an impressive weapon capacity of up to 8,800 lbs (4,000 kg) on 11 hardpoints. Not that the Yak-130 by itself is so bad with up to 6,600 lbs (3,000 kg) on 9 hardpoints.

A Belarusian Air Force Yak-130 armed to the teeth (Image © Irkut)
A Belarusian Air Force Yak-130 armed to the teeth (Image © Irkut)
The first batch of four Yak-130 of the Belarusian Air Force at the flightline during the official ceremony of introduction (Image © Irkut)
The first batch of four Yak-130 of the Belarusian Air Force at the flightline during the official ceremony of introduction (Image © Irkut)
Airbrake out on this Belarusian Yak-130 (Image © Irkut)
Airbrake out on this Belarusian Yak-130 (Image © Irkut)
A pair of Russian Air Force Su-25s (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)
A pair of Russian Air Force Su-25s similar to the ones in use by the Belarusian Air Force (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

With four Yak-130s delivered an another four on their way, Minks sees a package of a package of one Yak-130 and one Su-25, or two of each in a four pack, as the attack element of choice when it comes to engaging ground targets or performing close-air support.

The first tests of the new tactic with the combination of both planes took place in the beginning of September. The Yak-130 carried out the navigation, and the Su-25 came in for the kill.

Irkut of Russia is expected to deliver the second batch of four Yakovlev-designed Yak-130 in 2016 to the Belarusian Air Force. The country keeps an official strenght of 68 Su-25s, with an estimated third to half of the fleet fully operational and the rest in various stages of maintenance or repair.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by Irkut
Featured image (top): A Belarusian Yak-130 (Image © Irkut)

Inexperienced Russian Navy fighter jocks train from Crimea

The Russian Northern Fleet is sending five inexperienced pilots without carrier qualification together with regular staff to the Crimea. For decades the peninsula was part of Ukraine, but Russia annexed it with military force in February/March 2014. Flying out of former Ukrainian Saky Naval Aviation Base the cadets will prepare for their deployment on board the sole Russian Navy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, according to a Northern Fleet’s press statement.

Over the course of several weeks Northern Fleet cadets and more senior flight crews will operate three Sukhoi Su-33 (“Flanker”) carrier-borne jets and three Sukhoi Su-25UTG (“Frogfoot”). The Su-25UTGs are especially adapted to train pilots in carrier operations, while using land-based simulated set-ups. A maximum number of 10 of the UTG versions are reportedly still in use with the Russian Navy.

The Northern Fleet plans to have its training deployment of a total of 70 personnel including ground crew make a total of 10 flights daily and perform practice runs on the NITKA carrier simulation range on the Crimea. No real deck landings are planned to be executed.

Although Russian forces did have an agreement with Kiev earlier to operate from Saky Naval Base and the NITKA range but the deal ended even before the Russian take-over of the Crimean facilities started. Last year a Ka-27, three Mi-14s, two AN-26s and one Beriev Be-12 of the Ukrainian Naval Aviation were seen fleeing the place under pressure, as caught on video somewhat down in our extensive Overview: Air Forces of Ukraine.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An Russian Naval Aviation Sukhoi Su-33 preparing to launch from the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the Barents Sea in October 2008 (Image © кремль Press Office)

France steps up effort against Boko Haram

The French armed forces are stepping up efforts against the rebel / terrorist organisation Boko Haram in Nigeria. French officials told Reuters that their military planes are conducting reconnaissance missions on the edges, but not in, Nigerian airspace.

Part of Operation Barkhane in Central Africa and Mali, the French have Mirage 2000Ds in Niamey and Rafales at N’Djamena in Chad. Since the beginning of this year even the large and heavy C135R tanker can use both airbases to help the fighter jets stay in the air longer.

It is very much likely that it are the Rafales which are conducting the recon missions against Boko Haram, in order to help the Chadian and Nigerian military to combat this force that has grown more dangerous over the last couple of months. N’Djamena is only 30 miles (50 km) from the Nigerian border. The French Army has 3,200 troops in Chad and Mali to fight what is officially called by the French “la bande sahélo-saharienne (BSS): Mauritanie, Mali, Niger, Tchad et Burkina-Faso”. The French forces include Tigre attack and NH90 transport helicopters.

Force Aérienne Tchadienne
A Chadian Air Force (Force Aérienne Tchadienne) jet – likely one of six Sukhoi Su-25s – bombed Boko Haram troops in a Nigerian border town last month, sources say, in an attempt to help downgrade the threat of the rebel group. The Chadian military will take part in the African Union (AU) force that is said to number 7,500 troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Benin as well to combat Boko Haram. If the AU succeeds in getting a UN Security Council mandate other nations – including the French – might step in to provide military airlift.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the French Ministry of Defence
Featured image (top): A French Air Force Dassault Rafale B taking off (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Related: ↑ French keep up force fighting ISIS

A French Army NH90 deployed in Central Africa for Operation Barkhane, taken in January 2015  (Image © Ministère de la Défense)
A French Army NH90 deployed in Central Africa for Operation Barkhane, taken in January 2015 (Image © Ministère de la Défense)

Iraqi Su-25s debut in combat ISIS in the North

UPDATED 15 FEBRUARY 2015 | Iraqi piloted Sukhoi Su-25s (“Frogfoot”) have seen combat against ISIS positions for the first time in the north of the country this month, local media in Iraq report.

The close-air support and ground attack jets have reportedly hit targets near Tikrit, a strategically located city which saw much fighting over the last decade.

During Summer Iraq received at least a dozen Su-25s, with 15 “Frogfoots” reportedly operational by February 2015. First five were flown in directly from Russia on Antonov An-124-100 Ruslan strategic airlifters, then Iran returned three Su-25UBK and four Su-25K jets to Iraq. Those “Iranian” jets fled Iraq when Operation Desert Storm was launched: a US led coalition attack in January 1991 to push Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, the neigbouring state the Iraqi military occupied several months earlier.

See the video footage of Iran returing Su-25s to Iraq in July 2014:

The Iraqi Air Force is working hard to train its pilots to operate the Su-25s. When the Iranian jets arrived in Summer, 10 Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) pilots stayed. Some of them might actually have bombed ISIS targets to as Iran itself is every now and then involved in bombing missions against ISIS.

Meanwhile the first Iraqi pilots started training on the American-made F-16 in the Arizona desert, but it is still highly uncertain if the 18 of these Lockheed Martin jets will ever make it across the pond to Balad Airbase.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

See our entire Iraqsyrialog

One of the ex-Iraqi Air Force Su-25KUBs returned by Iran in July 2014 (Footage by Iraqi Air Force)
One of the ex-Iraqi Air Force Su-25KUBs returned by Iran in July 2014 (Footage by Iraqi Air Force)