Technically, “Pimp my Sukhoi”. On November 25, 2007, the Russian Air Force accepted it’s first batch of upgraded Sukhoi-24 fighter bombers. The Su-25 is the Soviet response to the American F-111. Having been in service for 32 years, it now sports the latest electronics and gadgets. Flat screen instruments, GPS and smart bombs are just some of the improvements.
While the upgraded Sukhoi is another step in Russian President Putin’s path to making Russia a military superpower again, it also gives credence to another concern in the West. Take a look at this MiG-25.To prevent capture or destruction during Desert Storm, the Iraqis buried this MiG-25. Designed in the 1960’s it was long feared as a “premier” fighter. It has since been reduced to an airborne target for Western fighters. Or so we thought. The MiG pictured in the picture above looks like a MiG-25 but it has been “pimped” as well. Old on the outside, everything inside is new. Electronics, engines, weapons. All courtesy of the French. This gives rise to speculation about how helpful the French have been.
Consider the plight of the Iranian F-14 Tomcats. Back in the 1970’s the U.S. sold a bunch of Tomcats to the Shah of Iran. He was deposed and the planes fell into the hands of the Mullahs. Rumors abound of how the American technicians sabotaged the weapon systems before they were kicked out of the country. Coupled with a parts embargo by the U.S. this reduced the Iranian F-14 fleet to museum pieces. The last time they were used in combat was during the Iran/Iraq war of 1980 and even then they were used as airborne controllers rather than weapons.
In light of the upgrade of the Sukhoi and the story of the “Buried MiG”, a question has to asked. Have the Iranians upgraded their Tomcats? Intelligence estimates are still guarded. A F-14 “pimped” by the French (or Russians) poses a real challenge to the U.S. and her allies.