A Sukhoi Su-25UB fighter-bomber trainer jet of the Russian Air Force crashed on Wednesday during a routine sortie in the Stavropol Region of the southern part of the country. The fate of the two pilots in the unarmed twin-engine Su-25US is unclear with the Russian Defense Ministry stating that the crash took place in a remote area and though the aircraft was completely destroyed, there was no damage on the ground.
A search and rescue operation has been launched to locate the two pilots. "On September 3, a Sukhoi Su-25UB fighter-bomber crashed during a routine training flight. The rescue service is searching for the two missing pilots. The plane carried no ammunition. It crashed in an unpopulated area causing no destruction on the ground," the Russian Defence Ministry said in a press release.
The Su-25UB lost control with its base just before it went down outside the town of Budyonnovsk. The two pilots, however, managed to eject before the crash. While one of the pilots was an experienced trainer, the other was a cadet of the Russian Air Force. Russian news portal sputniknews.com reported that emergency services have reached the crash site which is about 38 km south-west of Budyonnovsk and all Su-25 flights in southern Russia have been suspended until the cause of the crash is established.
The Russian Air Force lost a Su-25 in March 2008 to an accidental missile launch and the pilot was killed. Investigations later revealed that the wingman of the ill-fated Su-25 had launched a missile by accident dowing the combat jet.
While the subsonic Su-25 Grach is a single-seater, the version which crashed is manned by two pilots as it is used for training. jet aircraft developed in the Soviet Union. Tasked with close air support, the Su-25 flew for the first time on February 22, 1975, and entered service with the air force of the now-defunct USSR in July 1981.
With a maximum speed of 975 kilometres per hour (Mach 0.79), the Su-25 has a maximum range of 1,000km and a combat radius of 750km at sea level with 4,400 kilogrammes of armament and two external fuel tanks. Since the Su-25 is for close air support, so the plane's service ceiling is just 7,000 metres with a rate of climb just 58 metres per second and g limit +6.5.
Armed with one 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-2 autocannon with 250 rounds, the Su-25 also has two 23 mm SPPU-22 gun pods for Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23 autocannons with 260 rounds. The plane also has 11 hardpoints to carry up to 4,400kg of bombs, missiles and rockets.