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Su-25KM Scorpion

Ground attack aircraft

Su-25KM Scorpion

The Su-25KM was a Georgian upgrade of the Su-25 with comprehensively improved avionics

 
 
Country of origin Georgia
Entered service 2001
Crew 1 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 15.53 m
Wing span 14.36 m
Height 4.8 m
Weight (empty) 9.1 t
Weight (maximum take off) 17.5 t
Engines and performance
Engines 2 x MNPK Soyuz/Gavrilov R-195Sh turbojets
Traction (dry) 2 x 44.13 kN
Maximum speed 950 km/h
Service ceiling (unloaded) 7 km
Range 1 000 km
Range (with external fuel tanks 1 850 km
Combat radius 400 km
Armament
Cannon 1 x 30 mm cannon with 250 rounds, podded 30 mm guns
Missiles Kh-25 and Kh-29 air-to-ground missiles, R-60 and R-73 air-to-air missiles
Bombs 100-, 250-, 500 kg free fall bombs and laser-guided bombs
Other pods with unguided rockets, incendiary tanks, containers for small freight

 

   The Su-25KM, also named as the "Scorpion" is a profoundly modernized version of the Soviet Su-25 ground attack aircraft. Letters "KM" in the designation stand for "Commercial model, Modernized". It was produced in the early 2000s by Tbilisi Aerospace Manufacturer (TAM) of Georgia - the former Soviet Dimitrov Factory Nr.31. Having a huge experience in manufacturing the Su-25s, Su-24s and different other types of aerospace products. Georgian TAM teamed up with Israeli Elbit Systems and Elgad to create a modernized export version of the Su-25. Production began in 2001. The first aircraft took off during the same year.

   Even though airframe of the Su-25 that proved to be very survivable during wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, and even earned a "Flying tank" nickname, it was in need of serious upgrades in order to meet modern requirements. During the modernization the airframe was refurbished. Comprehensive changes were mainly made to avionics, optical and navigational systems.

   Analog devises and gauges in the old cockpit have been replaced with state-of-the-art digital equipment. Two wide color displays were installed on each side of the control stick. Also an upfront control panel and head up display were fitted. Additionally the Su-25KM was fitted with computerized weapon system, advanced debriefing system and friend or foe identification system, which is compatible with NATO standards. The Scorpion obtained full glass cockpit with simple, functional and user friendly operational arrangements, including mission pre-plan capability and modern radio-communication equipment.

   The Scorpion can carry 4 500 kg of ordnance. There are 10 hardpoints for missiles, bombs, and unguided rockets. There is a built-in 30 mm twin-tube cannon with 250 mm rounds of ammunition. This aircraft can also carry pods with additional guns.

   With a new software such as digital map generator, the modernized warplane became able to operate in day and night and in adverse weather conditions. The Su-25KM could carry out precision air-to-ground strikes with laser-guided bombs and even air-to-air strikes against helicopters and low-performance flying objects such as unmanned aerial vehicles. The Su-25KM could be equipped and reconfigured according to the customers’ needs.

   With all mentioned updates the Scorpion became fully compatible with NATO standards and capable to using both Western and Russian ammunition. The Su-25KM Scorpion combined a battle proven airframe with off-the-shelf technology. It emerged as a flexible and efficient close support aircraft that could compete with Western ground attack aircraft. This upgrade extended service life of the Su-25 airframes for another decade.

   However manufacturing was stopped at the end of 2010, after Georgian Air forces have been permanently dismissed and abolished. By that time, approximately 12 Scorpions were produced, but Georgian Air Force still used the basic models of Su-25 because of high cost of Su-25KM and because it was destined mainly for export. According to unofficial sources several Scorpions have been transferred to Turkmenistan as part of a trade deal.

 

Zaal Tchkuaseli

   Article by ZAAL TCHKUASELI

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Su-25KM Scorpion

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Su-25KM Scorpion

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Su-25KM Scorpion

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Su-25KM Scorpion

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Su-25KM Scorpion

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