I have to agree - the Mig-35 or whatever fighter proposal just won't do. There is a good reason why they have an armoured bath tub installed in the Su-25.
That was the argument that got A-10s and Su-25s into service and you can't refute their results because faster aircraft like the MiG-23 and MiG-27 and also the MiG-29 that should have replaced both in the fighter fighterbomber role were too fast and too fragile to get right up on the front line to find targets and hit them.
But if we look at the evolution of the Su-25 at the T and TM models it appears the evolution is to get more sophisticated aircraft still using mostly dumb or cheap smart weapons with sensors that allow the detection of targets from further away... which is the sort of thing you would do in a MiG-35 or dare I say it the M-55?
Perhaps the future of CAS will involve high flying observation platforms finding targets and passing target data to suicide drones or more sophisticated standoff platforms like the MiG-35 or A-16 (ground attack modification of the F-16) to hit from standoff distances perhaps with lofted unguided rockets with laser homing seekers, or glide bombs or missiles, or conventional guided weapons like Grom and Grom 2 and of course Kh-38 et al.
Perhaps a smaller missile like Hermes to hit critical individual armoured vehicles like tanks with mine rollers or air defence vehicles or mine clearing vehicles or artillery vehicles etc etc, or the odd HQ with a 250kg warhead of a Kh-38 missile...
I think better communications with the ground forces and sharing battle field pictures so the fighter aircraft sees friendly forces and he can scan with his AESA radar and IIR sensors the local landscape in real time with friendly forces highlighted so the ground forces can take a look together with the view provided by their drones and recon equipment and any attack helicopters in the area, and the people on the ground could choose the targets the aircraft need to hit, while of course the aircraft will also prioritise any air defence system or anyone that is keen to shoot at aircraft too...
Will that work or is it simply too overwhelming in terms of communications and enemy targets... I personally think it is really a job for a two seater aircraft with a pilot looking for threats and keeping over safe territory, while the guy in the back is communicating with everyone else and giving his pilot some directions to face to scan with radar or EO sensors it might be carrying, and communicating with ground forces and of course launching attacks on ground targets.
If the Su-25s are now just lofting rockets and possibly also bombs at targets to remain out of direct visual view (which makes sense if the enemy have BMPS with 25mm and 30mm automatic cannons then maybe the time of flying right up to enemy positions and posting a couple of dumb bombs or a burst of cannon fire or rockets directly into them is over.
Maybe that is not safe with any level of protection...
The Americans go on and on about the 30mm gun of the A-10 and yet they laugh at the twin barrel naval 25mm gun turret and 30mm gun turrets that have been seen put onto MTLBs... the 25 x 210mm naval round and their old 30 x 210mm round are probably both more powerful than the 30 x 173mm shell the A-10s Gau-8 fires.
Of course a conflict with Ukraine is the worst case scenario because their air defence systems were better and more widely deployed than HATO countries normally have...
There were quite a few similar proposals from Sukhoi as well but I think this type of aircraft will only be suitable for COIN roles.
The T-720 was one of the final proposals. Very sleek looking machine!
My favourite is from the same group that upgraded the An-2 with all composite material...
But there were an enormous number of variations of design types I have seen...
They weren't even all turboprops:
I still think that Mig35 can have a role to play, but of course not as a su-25 replacement.
I don't so much see it as the MiG-35 replacing the Su-25 because that implies the MiG-35 will be flying the way the Su-25 does and it certainly would not do that... during the conflict in Chechnia Su-27s that tried to fly CAS like missions were easily shot down because fast fighters are never any good in CAS roles.
As far as the Su-25 and th CAS, they could try to establish a new assembly line for a heavily modernised version, with also several systems developed for the mi28 and Ka52 Helicopters.
Well that is something they need to decide... can they improve the Su-25 to the point where it can do the job or do they need to start from scratch and come up with something new that is better in every way... sort of a... do you upgrade T-72 to T-90AM level, or do you go for T-14 instead... is a T-14 even possible or will CAS always be vulnerable to air defence fire and standoff distances with long range sensors to replace getting in close and using your eyes.
Tanks have cameras of the day and night variety so there is less need to stick your head out of the roof hatch... a VR helmet mounted sight might give them a god view of the battlefield based on the cameras on the tank and also nearby drones etc so they can safely view the battlefield... perhaps the solution for CAS pilots might be drone view with complex electronics on board to defeat anything guided directed at them.
The A-16 and MiG-29 failed to replace the Su-25 because at standoff distances the field of view is enormous and the actual space where enemy could hide is huge and covering that to find all enemy positions is near impossible... moving enemy can be spotted easily, but stationary camouflaged positions are very difficult to spot before they open fire and when they open fire the it is often too late... because now instead of being the hunter you are the hunted.
A coordinated group of drones could fly over the battlefield finding and marking enemy positions and forces and standoff aircraft can lock on and launch weapons at those targets... even ground forces artillery can fire and a tank force could loft guided shells over cover to hit such designated targets too, but coordinating all of that making sure every target gets properly designated and a weapon is fired to hit that target from a distance that will actually reach would be complex...
Something they would probably need an intense war to work out.
It seems with drones they already they run relays of platforms that fly to areas and are taken over by local forces to find targets and even hit targets... a level of complexity beyond just a guy with a drone in a suitcase and a remote control device.
Again let Mig35s make their job, which can also include ground attack, but with completely different missions and profiles than aircrafts like the su-25 or the American a-10 can do, and let have a proper dedicated and robust aircraft take the role of close air support.
Actually I suspect the job the A-10 performs... wandering behind enemy lines looking for enemy armour to hit, is less like the Su-25 and more like a role the MiG-35 might perform. The Su-25 is really more like a Stuka in the sense that it is called up by ground forces to deal with a problem they might lose a lot of men trying to handle... perhaps because the enemy are dug in and have all approaches well covered, so some 80mm rockets and 250kg bombs to get them to get their heads down and bust a few heads is what they want the Su-25 to do.
Maybe in the future we will have also su-25 (or su-25 derivative/successor) in UAV version.
I think suicide drones make more sense than drone versions of aircraft, because they can be designed and optimised to be disposable, which is not something any conventional aircraft should be designed for.
If you are going to fly in an Su-25 to loft 80mm unguided rockets from 5km away then I would think a much smaller drone with thick wings that have those new rocket pack boxes built into the wings that get 5km from a target and nose up and launch a volley of rockets at the target area would be just as effective... but something you want to fly right up to the target position and perhaps drop bombs... well a cheap disposable engine like that fitted to the V-2 doodlebug and two x 250kgs bombs designed into the fuselage so when the aircraft noses into the enemy position the fragments and explosion spread damage right along the enemy trenchline instead of burying into the ground... maybe even an aircraft that could uncoil a line charge like those mine clearing vehicles have done to fly down a trench line dropping a 50m long line charge into the trench and then boom..
I think the strikes real close to the front line will have to be done with drones. The MiG-35 would operate slightly behind the frontline outside of MANPADS, Avenger, and Strela range.
The optical sensors can detect tanks at 15 km range, and it can lase targets at 20 km range. This is well outside the range of ground launched infrared guided missiles. Strela for example has 5 km range only.
With AESA radar and new optics improving all the time and being fitted to their attack helicopters I would say standoff attacks are going to get better.
You are right to over estimate the range of Strela, because the Strela operator might not be located at your target.. they might be closer to the front line, so the more standoff range you can get the better.
LMUR has a range of 14.5km, but they should be able to improve that if needed... perhaps bigger wings to glide from a higher altitude launch, or just more fuel and less warhead... a dedicated anti armour version could have a 15kg HEAT fragmentation warhead instead of the 30kg warhead it has.
Not literally "doubling" in numbers, but diversifying.
Keeping competition... but when something has been decided then encouraging cooperation too...
Furthermore if Russia takes control of Ukrainian territory at the end of the SMO new airforce bases will needed to be organised.
New squadrons of Mig35 can be built in order to be assigned there.
You really don't need super long range fighters in european Russia where there are lots of airfields and they are not far apart, what you benefit from here is more aircraft filling the airspace better with fewer gaps.
Idk where you will find pilots for 4 to 5 new fighter regiments
Train them... they are expanding the size of the military... training some pilots would be useful.
You can easily take su25 pilots and rotate them from assault aviation to fighters
MiG-35 is very much a fighterbomber so it is in effect going back to frontal aviation where the enemy fighters and air defence are dealt with and then the other ground targets are hammered.