Russian upgraded Su-25 attack aircraft to get sighting system with artificial intelligence

The target acquisition system with artificial intelligence will be able to independently identify hostile targets, keep them in sight and guide missiles.

Russian Air Force Su-25SM (54)

Russian Air Force Su-25SM (54) attack aircraft (Photo by © Yuri Smityuk/TASS)

Russia’s upgraded Su-25SM3 attack aircraft will get an onboard target acquisition and sighting system with artificial intelligence elements to allow pilots to strike designated targets actually without their participation, a source in the defense industry told TASS on Wednesday.

“As part of further upgrade of attack aircraft, the latest Su-25SM3 versions will be furnished with a new sighting system. It will be fully automated and a pilot will only have to select a target on the screen and all the rest will be done by artificial intelligence,” the source said.

The target acquisition system with artificial intelligence will be able to independently identify hostile targets, keep them in sight and guide missiles. The new technology has been integrated into the unified troop command and control system, which allows mapping an optimal route towards the target and the trajectory of using weapons. Upgraded attack aircraft will also be able to receive data on targets from external sources through the command and control system.

A source in the aircraft-building industry earlier told TASS that the upgraded Mi-28NM attack helicopter would get a similar system with artificial intelligence.

Expert opinion

As Editor-in-Chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland journal Viktor Murakhovsky told TASS, the new system is capable of accomplishing a whole range of tasks. “This includes re-targeting during a flight, the issuance of new flight assignments and integration into the battlefield reconnaissance and information space,” he said.

The new target acquisition system really features artificial intelligence elements, the chief editor said. “When picking a target, the aircraft’s onboard information and control system automatically maps the most optimal route towards this target in compliance with the selected tactics… The system can also offer options for employing the weapon payload against such a target, the variants of tactical and air maneuvers with regard to this target,” the expert explained.

Besides, the attack aircraft equipped with this system can guide weapons using target acquisition from external sources, the expert said.

“It can get target acquisition from ground-based hardware, for example, from the Strelets reconnaissance, control and communications system [part of the Ratnik soldier combat gear],” the expert concluded.

The Su-25SM3 is a modernized version of the Su-25 attack aircraft. The plane is capable of destroying small-size ground installations and air targets at any time of day or night. The attack aircraft’s combat efficiency has increased threefold compared to other modifications. As distinct from its predecessors, the upgraded aircraft is equipped with the Glonass satellite navigation system that offers a possibility of programming a final point on the map with an accuracy of up to 10 meters while the cockpit has a digital display with an option of projecting the ground and air situation.

Source: Moscow, TASS Agency | 08 May 2019

AI targeting upgrade planned for Su-25SM3 attack jets: FLightGlobal report

The Su-25M3 is an upgraded version of the venerable Cold War type, with improved navigation and displays.

Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer shows there are 485 Su-25s in service with 21 operators, of which Russia is the largest operator with 199 examples. Other big operators include Belarus (68), and North Korea (34).

Separately, TASS quotes Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu as saying that the nation’s Tupolev Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers will be upgraded to use more advanced cruise missiles.

While Shoigu did not state specifics about the weapons, he may have been referring to the Raduga KH-101/102 air-launched cruise missile, which has been in Russian service since 2013 and was reportedly being upgraded following use in Syria.

“[The] number one question on the agenda concerns the strategic bombers Tupolev-160 and Tupolev-95MS,” he is quoted as saying. “Currently they are being equipped with new instruments that will let them use advanced air-launched cruise missiles.”

Russia is in the process of remanufacturing its small fleet of Tu-160s with new avionics and engines. In December 2018, TASS reported that an upgraded Tu-160 test fired a salvo of 12 KH-101’s at Russia’s Pemboi practice range.

In a February 2019 blog post, International Institute of Strategic Studies analyst Douglas Barrie noted that long range cruise missiles would allow the Tu-160 to threaten most of Europe while remaining deep in Russian aerospace.

“Along with the reduced risk of operating within national airspace, remaining close to an operating base offers the ability for a comparatively quick reload and turn around,” says Barrie. “For an extended-range bomber flight, a quick launch of all of the cruise missiles also reduces the aircraft’s vulnerability.”

The Russian Air Force has 16 in-service Tu-160s, while UnitedAircraft Corporation unit Tupolev has three examples. In addition, Moscow has orders for 10 additional Tu-160s.

The Russian Air Force has 42 in-service Tu-95s.

Source: FlightGlobal | 09 May 2019

Nikolai Kutnetsov (RUSSIA XairForces Editor)

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