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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
Su-25SM attack aircraft  Yuri Smityuk/TASS
Su-25SM attack aircraft
© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

MOSCOW, May 8. /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.