Which is tougher A10 or Su-25 (genuine question)?

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Having been reading an article debating the retirement of the A10 on AW, I got to thinking about these two aircraft.

We read lots about Su-25 losses but they are being put in harms way with less sophisticated weaponry more often. I wonder if the A10 was being flown in Ukraine (for example) instead of the Su-25, would it be suffering the same losses?

Assuming tactics and weapons are the same.

Here is a video of a damaged A10 which purports to show why it is so "amazing":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BecNTYPYbU

there may be better examples out there or indeed Su-25 examples too.

This is not intended as a competition by the way.

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9 years 5 months

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Having been reading an article debating the retirement of the A10 on AW, I got to thinking about these two aircraft.

We read lots about Su-25 losses but they are being put in harms way with less sophisticated weaponry more often. I wonder if the A10 was being flown in Ukraine (for example) instead of the Su-25, would it be suffering the same losses?

Assuming tactics and weapons are the same.

Here is a video of a damaged A10 which purports to show why it is so "amazing":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BecNTYPYbU

there may be better examples out there or indeed Su-25 examples too.

This is not intended as a competition by the way.

I believe they are not all that different. I just think the Su-25 was unlucky enough to have been deployed without anyone watching its back sorta speak. Maybe it highlights however how ineffective its flare and chaff system is against modern shoulder fired AA weapons, but that is a different issue.

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Ukraine's Su-25s were obsolete, as most have no been upgraded since the 80s. Also, the upgraded ones do not have new RWR/ECM thus no real improvement. If 1980s Su-25s would be replaced by 1980s A-10 the result is likely to be the same.

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Probably pretty similar.

http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/attachments/military-aviation/11846d1221769874-random-thoughts-mighty-hog-part-2-su-25-georgia_2.jpg

http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2011/232/a/f/su_25_damage_by_wolfenkrieger-d477uk8.jpg

Armor is nice but CAS birds need up to date electronic protection and DIRCM. That is why I am looking fore-ward to SU-25SM3 so much.

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IMO the A-10 is far superior do to design, the armor tub for the pilot, redundant systems and control surfaces. Also the way the wing protects the inlet of the engines.

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Probably pretty similar.

http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/attachments/military-aviation/11846d1221769874-random-thoughts-mighty-hog-part-2-su-25-georgia_2.jpg

http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2011/232/a/f/su_25_damage_by_wolfenkrieger-d477uk8.jpg

Armor is nice but CAS birds need up to date electronic protection and DIRCM. That is why I am looking fore-ward to SU-25SM3 so much.

Pretty amazing...this wasn't just a regular bird strike I assume.

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IMO the A-10 is far superior do to design, the armor tub for the pilot, redundant systems and control surfaces. Also the way the wing protects the inlet of the engines.

I think you will find that the Su-25 has all of those as well - well except, perhaps, the the "magic all-protecting wing" bit.

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IMO the A-10 is far superior do to design, the armor tub for the pilot, redundant systems and control surfaces. Also the way the wing protects the inlet of the engines.

Su-25 also had redundant systems, and appearantly much heavier armor than A-10. To quote myself (I've translated from a source I currently can't find it on my pc.)

Su-25 has 755 kg armor, compared to ~540 kg of A-10s, and it makes 7,7% of total weight, compared to 4,7% of A-10s.

Su-25's cockpit armor as follows; titanium armor, 24 mm thick at front and sides, 10 mm thick at bottom and back; rear part of the headrest is 17 mm titanium, sides are 6 mm semi-hardened armour steel. Inside the airframe it has two bulkhead armors made of 20 mm and 17 mm, engine attachment assembly also acts as front armor which is 20 mm thick. They are supported by two additional bulkheads 2,5 mm thick. Engine centerline distance is exactly 1500mm, both engine cowlings and the center fuel tank is surrounded by soft material to catch fan blades in case of engine destruction. Minimum distance between fuselage side armor and the engine is 40mm. Engine is only fully armoured at front half and is 25mm thick at the bottom, and 8 mm thick at sides. Rear half lacks side armor, but has 17 mm plating that covers interior half at the bottom, and the fuselage fuel tank. Starting at the aft of the cockpit bathtub, fuselage has 17 mm armor at the bottom, and has varying side armor thicknesses from 20 mm at front to 2,5mm at the middle then to 5 mm at the rear. Avionics bays at the front and ammunition bay is also protected by 18 mm armor. Tail is not armored, but individual actuators are covered with sheet metal.

USAF used A-10s againist Iraqi army, 4 were shot down. RuAF used Su-25 againist Georgian army. 3 Su-25 were shot down (friendly fire or not). Granted A-10 had far more sorties, but Georgian AD forces had more modern equipment and less airspace to protect. All 7 aircraft appearently downed by KUBs (there are contradicting sources about this, open to discussion), and on many occasions A-10s and Su-25 hit by MANPADS made it back home.

So thick armor is good for small firearms AAA, or MANPAD if pilot is lucky, but it makes no difference to larger SAMs.

What really makes a difference is deployment strategy; On all the occasions Su-25s got hit by MANPADs, it could be avoided if Su-25s had worked from distance by firing Kh-25 missiles. Even using S-13 rockets instead of UB-32s, would have doubled the distance from the enemy fire. But sadly Kh-25 is expensive, and 57mm rockets are not.

Also both USAF and RuAF had full air superiority in both occasions and hundeds of aircraft with anti-radar capability to silence the KUB radars. IMHO, every one of these kills are due to enemy outsmarting the Su-25/A-10 operating airforces on these singular events, rather than the ineffectiveness of the aircraft.

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They both have their design philosophies. A-10's engines can theoretically fall off when damaged, thus protecting the airframe. Su-25 use titanium rods for its control surfaces instead of cables like the A-10. I think the early Frogfoots used cables until that was recognized as a weakness in Afghanistan. Looking at the A-10, is the canopy armored? Seems it was optimized for visibility over protection.

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Pretty amazing...this wasn't just a regular bird strike I assume.

Explosive, seeking birds to be precise ;) .

Generally speaking Su-25 showed good survivability from MANPADs in its most recent use by Russia (Ossetia).
But even if an airframe makes it back, it will probably become a donor bird, or scrapped all together. Much better not to be hit at all.

http://forums.eagle.ru/attachment.php?attachmentid=113371&stc=1&d=1424461883
http://forums.eagle.ru/attachment.php?attachmentid=113372&d=1424461881

Finally some photos of the true Su-25SM3. Looks like it will indeed finally get a comprehensive defensive suit among other features.

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Another Su-25 hit by SAM over Georgia

[ATTACH=CONFIG]235546[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]235547[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]235548[/ATTACH]

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IIRC A-10 has three-spar wing whilst Su-25 has two-spar wing so one might have slight difference there. In practical terms there probably ain't that much difference.
Big difference is weapons: A-10 has very versatile Maverick missile, whilst for Su-25 availability of guided weapons is much more limited. This means that Su-25 is likely to spend much more time in harms way, even if you figure in that Su-25 is somewhat faster.

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I don't know, but my feeling from what I have seen on the net is that they probably are similar and if you took away the modern avionics and defence systems of the A10 the Su-25 is massively armoured by comparisson. Having said which, the SAM strikes on the SU-25 are by definition going to mess up the fuselage (which is why the thickness of the fuselage skin is so apparent), whereas on an A10 its just going to pop an engine.

Possible to say the A10 design is more innovative but then the Su-25 layout is similar to the Northrop YA9 so probably more of a utilitarian approach:

[ATTACH=CONFIG]235570[/ATTACH]

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SAM strikes on an A-10 will only 'pop an engine' if they home straight on the engine, which even with IR homing SAMs is no longer inevitable, in these days of IIR.

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Having said which, the SAM strikes on the SU-25 are by definition going to mess up the fuselage (which is why the thickness of the fuselage skin is so apparent), whereas on an A10 its just going to pop an engine.

Possible to say the A10 design is more innovative but then the Su-25 layout is similar to the Northrop YA9 so probably more of a utilitarian approach:

There is a very good reason for that (engine placement).

Spot the difference:
[ATTACH=CONFIG]235571[/ATTACH]

[ATTACH=CONFIG]235572[/ATTACH]

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Engine separation is of course not always a good thing. When you lose an engine, you can fall victim to asymmetrical thrust, which is often fatal in low altitudes, especially for planes which don't have much in the way of excess power.

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Those engines are close enough to the centreline for asymmetry not to be a significant issue. The rudders and vertical fins are sized to deal with it and more.

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@ yama

Kh-25 & 29 are in the same range

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Agree it looks like both do pretty well. Never had seen those damaged 25's- impmersive. I think the podded engines on the A-10 would be a bit better in terms of keeping the damage to the engine/engine pod, less prone to a damaged engine taking out the other engine (I do know there is protection between the engines on the Su.) and less risk of engine fire affecting the fuselage. Protection wise, the cockpit glass seems better on the Su (but with reduced visibility). Perhaps no "winner" here.

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This is maybe a good image of the Su-25 nacelles...

[ATTACH=CONFIG]235578[/ATTACH]

I was going to suggest podding them underwing might have made even more sense, but then seen the undercarriage is mounted in the nacelle/fuselage join.

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Technically Su-25 could carry 8 Kh-25 guided missiles, more than A-10, which is limited to 6 AGM-65s. Though for similar mission, Su-25 may need drop tanks, reducing number to 4-6 missiles. Also, A-10 carries AGM-65s on TERs, so there are 6 additional pylons for bombs and rockets.

However as the topic is survivability; I believe Su-25 has one clear advantage over A-10 in terms of payload: RWR equipped Su-25s can carry Kh-25MP but A-10 doesn't have its own anti-radar missiles. On paper, a SPS-141 and Kh-25MP equipped Su-25 can fight againist KUB SAMs that shot them down. A-10 has no real means to do so without getting support from other aircraft.

TBH I have never seen/heard Su-25 on wild weasel role.