I think you are missing the point of such pods.
Without the pod you can send a dumb daylight only Su-25 with largely unguided weapons.
You will need to send in quite a few, with some attacking the primary targets while others fly above and try to locate where the ground fire is coming from and neutralise it.
They will all suffer if the enemy is well equipped with MANPADs.
With a pod you can send in half as many Su-25s to engage the target and hit that target with guided weapons even those of the previous generation like Kh-25 and Kh-29 will allow standoff ranges of 10km which means that those Su-25s can be out of range of MANPADS near the target.
It also means they can attack at night which also reduces the effectiveness of ground fire.
The aircraft supporting them can still do so looking for enemy radars and using ARMs to protect the group and rocket pod loaded decoy rockets in case of MANPADs attack.
The point is that you can have dumb cheap aircraft that you will need lots of, or you can spend a fortune on the TM upgrade, or you can spend less and buy a dozen pods for use within one district to share between 100 aircraft and make them all potentially as capable as an expensive upgraded all weather aircraft when in fact they can all be the cheap upgraded aircraft SM.
The new Flankers probably wont need Damocles pods because they already have most of the functions offered by the pod built in. The new Mig-35s certainly already do.
I would think such pods would be most used on strike and CAS missions which should mean Su-34 and Su-25s and Su-24s will be using them. Perhaps even Tu-22M3s too if they can sort out the engine issues. (For the latter I think the Tu-160 could do with a brand new engine and that it should be designed so that it can be used in both the Tu-160 and Tu-22M3 based on the engine technology that has been developed since their engines entered service. Both engines are still impressive even now for power and fuel efficiency.)
So it finally comes down to it that all of those thermal rifle sights we have been toughting at the trade shows is not going to be purchased. This is the final nail in the coffin of the domestic design of optics in the Russian Federation. France now monopolises this industry.
I disagree. Several examples of the SPARROW AAM were captured in Vietnam and a Soviet variant was developed by a Soviet design bureau. When it came time to compete to make the new AAM for the Mig-23 the AA-4 Awl was competing with the R-23 and lost. It just happened that the R-23 was superior to the replica of the SPARROW. The R-23 entered service as the AA-7 Apex and was later improved as the R-24 with improved performance. When an early model Sidewinder was captured in China things were different. The Soviet equivelent was the AA-1 Alkali and it was a complex missile with a tail cone for a datalink to the launch aircraft to guide it and side angled rocket motor exhausts and inside was a mess of servo motors and electronics and explosive and propellent all carefully balanced so the centre of gravity didn't effect manouver capability. The Sidewinder on the other hand was modular and basic. You could seperate all the components and from the front you had the seeker, then the servo motors for the nose canards, then the warhead, and then the rocket body then at the rear you had large wings and rollerons and at the very rear the engine exhaust.
The rocket wasn't more powerful than Soviet rockets and the IR seeker wasn't better than Soviet IR seekers but the whole concept of breaking all the parts down to seperate modules made production and maintainence much simpler and easier. If a sidewinder had a faulty rocket motor you just popped the other bits off and attached them to a new motor. With an AA-1 you pretty much threw away the missile because the complexity of removing the rocket and replacing it meant completely taking it apart.
The reason the Soviets copied the Sidewinder was because it was so simple it was a great new way to make missiles. They new that the time it would take for the new modular design to filter through the design bureaus it would be some time before they got new weapons based on this design into service, so they copied the basic design and used Soviet components where possible. They used a Soviet seeker, a Soviet rocket motor, but they found the roll stabilisation system used by the Americans was much smaller and simpler than their own so they copied that too.
The result was a foreign design in Soviet service much quicker than an equivelent Soviet design could have been developed.
Strangely though the AA-1 design didn't die as the Kh-66 and Kh-25 series and even the AA-6 Acrid seem to have that external shape and design setup. Their need for a rear facing datalink pod required side angled rocket exhausts for propulsion.
What am I dribbling on about?
Well Russia has gotten a hold of some more western technology in the form of French thermal sights and found they are superior to sights made domestically. Not really a surprise considering the circumstances.
The result is that a Russian company will now licence produce French designed thermal sights for a range of uses from aircraft, to tanks, to rifles and small arms. Note a thermal sight on an Igla makes it a very deadly weapon as many aircraft operate at night to reduce vulnerability (esp helos).
As mentioned in the article above that licence production might even include production of material for export to France.
This is good for Thales of France because lower production costs mean the opportunity to sell more.
This is good for the Russian Armed forces because they get a better quality product.
This is good for Russian MIC because they are getting factories with state of the art tooling and relatively new designs to build and work on, as well as the opportunity to work on new developments with Thales too.
Look at the Rolls Royce Nene and Derwent engines that were sold to the Soviet Union.
The first "licence produced versions" were similar, but later models got various improvements and changes and became Soviet engines.
You say France now monopolises the Russian MIC industry with regard to thermal sights.
Once production has started if a new government in France takes power can they take control and stop production of thermal sights in Russia?
I would say no. And with no for the answer the next question is why should it matter that you currently get your new thermals from one source?
My answer to that is that it would only matter if there was another source where you could get a better quality sight for less cost, and I don't think that is the case.