The video from Matt Wagner on the DCS: Syria map showing off another base and some ground attack operations influenced me to jump into the Su-25 myself and fly this aircraft that is part of the Flaming Cliffs 3 aircraft pack. I haven’t flown this aircraft more than a handful of times but after putting in a quick test flight on a target range… I’m kind of hooked. Let’s take a quick look at the Su-25 in DCS.
The single seat, twin engine, attack jet called the ‘Grach’ by the Russians and codenamed ‘Frogfoot’ by NATO, is roughly analogous in role to the A-10 Warthog. It’s also very much the spiritual successor to the IL-2 Sturmovik from WWII. Designed to be a low altitude close air support weapon with a large weapons capacity and the ability to absorb a few hits, the Su-25 is a beast of an aircraft.
The prototype Su-25T Frogfoot is in everyone’s DCS World hangar as it comes free with DCS World. It’s an entry point into the series although I never particularly enjoyed flying it despite an attempt last year to enjoy flying it more and I encourage new players to the sim to try something else.
Enter the regular old Su-25 into the mix. What’s the difference?
Between 1978 and 1989, 582 single-seat Su-25’s were produced by an aircraft factory in Tbilisi Georgia. These were of the original Su-25 series and were produced alongside a slightly modified Su-25K – an export model which revised the avionics.
Other variants were produced including two seater trainer variants both for the Soviet Union and for export customers. Some of these two seat models were converted to a single seat with the rear compartment used to house new avionics equipment to support the Shkval optical TV and aiming system. Three prototypes and eight production aircraft were produced – I’ve seen more in a couple of hours of flying on DCS World multiplayer matches than exist in the real world.
Meanwhile, the original Su-25 saw a modernization program with the Su-25SM and most recently the SM3 further upgrading the systems. But ultimately they draw everything from the original Su-25 design and it’s this original version that I took out for a spin.
Not clickable but still fun
The thing I think I like most about the Su-25 Frogfoot from Flaming Cliffs 3 is the simplicity. Even if this was a full fidelity, clickable cockpit variant (I’d spring for that), the Su-25 is a relatively simple aircraft with a few different HUD modes and CCIP bombing capabilities which let you put unguided munitions on target.
Rockets, bombs, and guns are the basics of this aircraft with no fancy avionics providing much of anything special here. There is a laser designator in the nose and it can be used to self lase for a precision missile strike at short range but it’s very much a hands on effort that still takes you down into the weeds.
Unlike flying the Su-25T, the lighter and more streamlined Su-25 feels a bit more spritely and agile and not as encumbered by all of the gear it’s lobbing around. Make no mistake, this variant is sluggish compared to the high end jets that I’m used to flying in DCS World but it’s markedly better than the T model in my limited experience.
In my quick mission I ended up blasting some parked trucks with rockets, bombs and guns. Because its Flaming Cliffs 3 it’s easy enough to swap modes and target away. For someone coming from other sims, this version of the Su-25 is almost the better version to work with than the more complicated Su-25T.
I’d buy a DCS: Su-25 Frogfoot release if Eagle Dynamics or one of their high end third parties decided to do it. I’ve enjoyed flying the MiG-21bis recently and I feel like the level of complexity there would be about the same as it is with this jet.
With the MiG-23 coming from RAZBAM, I feel like we’re edging closer to the modern day. While there’s no official word that Eagle Dynamics has been able to break a modern day impasse that prevents them from making more recent Russian aircraft such as a MiG-29 or Su-27 variant, I wonder if the 1989 Su-25 Frogfoot may be old enough for a pass. As fun fighter jets go, the Su-25 is decidedly unsexy but I’d still happily take a clickable late 80’s version of this aircraft if Eagle Dynamics or another third party were ever to decide to make it.
Putting in some more time flying this
After having this much fun, I’ve resolved myself to fly this version of the Su-25 a bit more. I’ve probably put less than 20 minutes into it in the years that I’ve owned Flaming Cliffs 3 and nobody on the Facebook/Reddit/Forum communities is talking about their latest Su-25 exploits…. but maybe it’d be fun to turn the page on this aircraft and have some fun with a simpler but still interesting jet in DCS World. Clickable cockpit or no.