Su-25 ‘Frogfoot’ Units In Combat
By Alexander Mladenov
Series: Osprey Combat Aircraft Book 109
Paperback, 96 pages, illustrated, 33 profiles
Published by Osprey Publishing April 2015
Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches
Another volume in Osprey’s Combat Aircraft series, this one follows the standard format well known to modelers and enthusiasts. The book covers the development of the aircraft along with the operational use of the type interspersed with mission reports and personal anecdotes. It is always interesting to see how the Soviets (and later the Russians) conducted operations as this is not as well covered in the West as other air forces.
There were some operational practices which were interesting, being somewhat clever and still being used today in places like Syria and the Ukraine. There were missions where groups of four Su-25 would mimic civilian flights to approach targets without arousing suspicion, flying in tight formation to appear as a single aircraft to radar and using established civilian routes & flight profiles (presumably with civilian IFF as well). The use of the first Su-25 prototypes in combat in Afghanistan is described in detail. Deploying prototypes for combat trials goes back at least as far as The Winter War with Finland, similarly the Russians have deployed prototypes for combat trials in Syria. What the U.S. would describe as “surge” operations are covered, with units utilizing the element of surprise and transferring to forward bases for massive simultaneous strikes against large numbers of targets. An interesting tactic is the use of illumination flares as persistent decoys to protect against shoulder-fired missiles.
The first two thirds of the book focuses mainly on the Soviet war in Afghanistan, where the lessons learned will be familiar to those who have studied U.S. efforts there. The author describes Soviet strikes against Mujahedeen targets inside Pakistan, and Pakistani efforts to intercept the Soviet aircraft. As many as three Su-25s may have been lost to Pakistani F-16s.
The last few chapters cover actions after Afghanistan and the Soviet breakup as well as export users of the Frogfoot. All in all an interesting insight into the Russian method of ground support.