Russia’s Su-25SM3 fighter equipped with the Vitebsk-25 electronic warfare system is providing reliable protection from Ukraine’s MANPADS missile strikes, sources told Russian state media.
"The Russian aviation is successfully using upgraded Su-25SM3 aircraft in the military operation in Ukraine. They are equipped with the Vitebsk-25 electronic warfare system, providing reliable protection from the enemy’s MANPADS missile strikes," military sources were quoted as saying by TASS News Agency today.
This type of attack aircraft is used mainly in the South and in Donbass.
"These [Vitebsk] systems, placed in containers attached to the Su-25SM3’s hardpoints, show high performance and, on the whole, cope with their tasks quite successfully," they added.
These systems are also installed on Ka-52 helicopters and the Mi-8 family.
"They were successfully used in Syria. Not a single helicopter equipped with the Vitebsk was hit by terrorists’ MANPADS missiles," they recalled.
Earlier, the combat use of the latest version of the Su-25SM3 attack aircraft during the special operation in Ukraine was not confirmed officially. The Russian Defense Ministry regularly publishes video footage of camouflaged fortified field positions and armored vehicles of the Ukrainian army being destroyed by Su-25 attack aircraft, without specifying the modifications of the planes used.
MANPADS in use by the Ukrainian Army
MANPADS is shorthand for man-portable air-defense systems. They are designed to be fired while mounted on a person’s shoulder or a tripod. These missiles can be used to shoot down aircraft and drones.
Among such weapons, U.S.-made Stingers have an infrared seeker which detects the target through its radiation emissions.
The U.S., Germany, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, the Netherlands and several other countries have transferred Javelins and Stingers to Ukraine. The FIM-92 Stingers were characterized as “fire and forget” MANPADS in 2019.
Javelin anti-tank missiles come equipped with an infrared sensor so the missile can make adjustments mid-air to find its target.
Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) systems – designed and produced by the UK and Sweden – are also shoulder-mounted short-range missiles. Britain has supplied some of these to Ukraine. However, they do not have an infrared sensor – hence, lighter to carry – and require the operator to pre-determine the missile’s path.
Su-25SM3 and Vitebsk
The Su-25SM3 is an upgraded Su-25 Grach (NATO reporting name Frogfoot) - an armored subsonic attack aircraft designed to provide direct support for ground forces over the battlefield round the clock by attacking visible targets, as well as to destroy targets with given coordinates around the clock in any weather.
The Su-25SM3 configuration has a GLONASS satellite navigation system, capable of programing the SVP-24-25 sighting and navigation system (SVP-24 Gefest variant) with an accuracy of 10 meters, which makes it possible to increase the accuracy of unguided air-launched weapons to the level of guided weapons. The aircraft is capable of destroying small ground targets and air targets round the clock. Its combat effectiveness is thrice that of other modifications.
The onboard defense system Vitebsk was developed by the Samara-based Research Institute Ekran for the individual protection of aircraft and helicopters from guided missiles and MANPADS. Protection is carried out by optical and electronic jamming. The first samples of this system were supplied to the Russian army in 2015. The system’s export version, called President-S, is in great demand on the foreign market and is supplied to a number of countries that operate Russian aircraft.