Introduced in 1980, the Su-25 Frogfoot was the first dedicated ground attack aircraft produced by the Soviet Union since the World War Two era propeller driven Il-2 Shturmovik. drawing heavily on lessons learned by the American Air Force during the vietnam war, and mirroring the performance of the American A-10 Warthog, the Frogfoot is a rugged aircraft capable of accuratly delivering a heavy payload from low altitude and surviving in the low level, high threat forward area environment. Though the Sukhoi Design Bureau originally sought to rely on speed to survive, it was determined that increased speed reduced the low level battlefield effectiveness of the aircraft. In short, if the aircraft was to perform its job effectivly, it would have to be capable of operating at low speeds; speed would be sacrificed for low speed maneuverability and heavy armor.
After several design changes, the first prototypes were approved in 1980. The first production Frogfoots were equipped with twin multi-fuel non afterburning turbojet engines, a twin barreled internally mounted 30mm cannon, titanium armor around the pilot and control surfaces, and foam filled, non-explosive self sealing fuel cells. The Su-25 was equipped with eleven underwing and under body hard points, was capable of delivering 4000 kilograms (8,818 pounds) of ordnance and could be operated off of unimproved dirt strips.
Following combat experience in Afganistan, an improved version, the Frogfoot-B, was fielded in 1984. The B model was a production modified version of the two seat Frogfoot-A trainer. The second seat was removed, as was the internal gun, and additional fuel, armor, and avionics were installed, in addition to an improved 30mm cannon, mounted in an external pod. In addition, the Frogfoot's lack of all weather, night time capability was addressed by incorperating a Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) low light navigation system as well as a TV camera and laser designator, spot tracker and rangefinding package.
Although the Frogfoot has been out of production for a number of years, it still remains in front line service with Russia's Frontal Aviation as well as many export nations, including Iraq.