As a result, today the combat use aviation and operations on land and naval theaters of operations (theater of operations) are already completely unthinkable without the use of special aviation systems - airborne early warning and control aircraft (AWACS). Thanks to these high-tech systems, military command and control units at all levels are able to effectively continuously monitor the airborne and, more recently, also ground and surface conditions and reliably control subordinate troops, forces and assets in real time (or close to it) That is the key to successful planning of the use of troops, forces and equipment and their direct control during operations of various sizes.
The newest Russian A-100 radar patrol and guidance aircraft, whose first flight took place a few days ago and, apparently, is dedicated to scheduled meetings of President Vladimir Putin on the state weapons program for the 2018 – 2027 years, are designed to solve these difficult tasks.
In the field of creating radar patrols and targeting airplanes (RLDN), or, as they are called in the Western manner, airborne early warning and control aircraft, at the first stage, Russia found itself in the role of catch-up. The first long-range radar detection aircraft in the classical form in which we understand it today (with the antenna radar installed on the fuselage, etc.) were created by the British.
At the beginning of 1940, specialists from the Research Center for Long-Haul Facilities (Telecomm Aircraft ARL-A-50EI is landing. Photo by Michael Sanderaunications Research Establishment - TRE) performed a number of experiments and radar aircraft detection interceptor targets and aiming was retooled Wellington Ic bomber (serial number R1941). The structure of the world's first prototype specialized radio engineering complex DRLO included:
- mounted on the fuselage of the aircraft in the area of the main spar of the 1,5-meter wing length rotating antenna “wave channel”, which abroad is called “Yagi-Uda antenna” or often just “Yagi antenna” and is an antenna that includes structurally located along the radiation line parallel to each other active and several passive vibrators (in this case, the antenna had 10 elements);
- onboard receiver ASV Mk. II, used on the coastal patrol aircraft of the British Air Force;
- special powerful transmitter;
- The indicator of the circular review with a diagonal of 9 inches (22,86 cm).
The prototype of the DRLO aircraft was tested for the first time in April 1942 in the area of the Lizard peninsula, in South Cornwall, and then successfully tested in 1942 – 1943. Including it was used by the British military to study the possibility of its use as a means of early detection and escort of German torpedo boats, causing a lot of trouble to the allies, who were supposed to direct their boats, guard ships or airplanes. Such tests were carried out at Birch-Newton air base, located near the coast in Norfolk County. However, as a result, the British, who had received more effective radar centimeter range, decided to abandon the use of the outdated meter radar installed on the machine. In April 1943, the radio-technical complex was dismantled from the aircraft, which, in turn, in October of the same year as a result of the accident, was written off as not recoverable.
The Americans took to the air the first long-range radar detection aircraft - the deck TBM-3W with the radar AN / APS-20 in the ventral fairing - 5 in August 1944 of the year. The Evenger was at that time the only ship-based aircraft on which it was possible to install a huge 8X3 foot (2,44 x 0,91 m) radome antenna and equipment of the complex, the total mass of which reached 2300 pounds (about 1043 kg). True, the plane and the shooter had to be removed from the plane, and the reservation, and all the weapons, and the experimental car itself was given the nickname “Guppy” for its characteristic appearance, which was then transferred to the new DRLO plane.
The main element of the radio complex installed on the DRLO aircraft was a new powerful AN / APS-20 radar: the operating range was 10 cm, the maximum radiated power was 1 MW, and the pulse duration was 2 seconds. The radar antenna was located in front of the aircraft’s bomb bay between the main landing gear supports and closed with a fiberglass fairing, which had flaps that allowed for the maintenance and repair of the antenna. Moreover, the design of the radar was so successful, and its characteristics - so impressive that it was in operation in the armed forces of several countries of the world until the 1960-s. Of particular note is the high noise immunity of the radio-technical complex used on the DRLO new aircraft, in particular, the radar data transmission system to the ship, as well as the use of an effective stabilization system for the onboard indicator of displaying the radar situation and orientation of the image displayed on it to the true North, which is almost the same remained on the fleet a few decades later, the airborne aircraft E-2 "Hockey".
"BARRIER FORCES" AND NEW "WATCH"
Losing to his British allies the palm in creating an early-warning radar aircraft, after the war, the Pentagon sold out, as they say, from the heart: first, the DRLO aircraft of the PW-1W type (converted from bombers) went to the troops, and then - initially “sharpened” under the decision WV-2 long-range radar detection and control tasks (then renamed to RC-121C, and from 1962 onwards to EC-121). These machines became the basis of the well-known at the time "Barrier Forces" - an integrated early warning system for Soviet bombers and strike ship groups in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. EC-121 also actively fought in Vietnam. According to American military historians, during the years of the Vietnam War, these aircraft, up to 1973, carried out combat missions from air bases in Taiwan, South Vietnam and Thailand, issued data on 3297 targets, provided control of 210 thousand aircraft and participated in search engines rescue operations, which resulted in the rescue of more than 80 downed American pilots. At the same time, as indicated in American sources with reference to US Air Force veterans, on July 10 1965, as a result of targeting two F-4 “Phantom” airplanes, performed by the crew of one of the EC-121, two MiG-17 aircraft were shot down, which was the first in the course of this war, the air victory "on guidance using radar".
British pilots also received quite modern early warning radar aircraft in 1950, and the legendary American Sentry E-26 long-range radar detection and control aircraft (Sentry) translated into English Hourly"). Moreover, its classification designation - AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) - has become a common noun: the word AWACS today refers to all aircraft of such designation. These aircraft entered service with the air forces of several countries of the world and the combined forces of NATO (see box).
"LIAN", and the next - "bummer"
The Soviet Union frankly lagged behind its opponents. Things reached the point that, until today, there is a perception that the very idea of using radar to detect aerial targets came to mind for the first time to Western specialists. By no means! Soviet military engineers advanced it back in the 1931 year, and in January 1934 successfully conducted the first experiments. The “innovative” idea of the British physicist Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt was recorded as a letter to the Ministry of Aviation only 12 February 1935 of the year. But we must pay tribute to our allies, and then - opponents. Due to the absence of bureaucratic red tape, the first air defense radars were built in Great Britain, allowing Foggy Albion fully armed to meet the armada of Luftwaffe bombers and ultimately defeat the battle for Britain.
However, soon, and in the Soviet Union, work on the creation of an aviation complex for early warning radar was given the highest priority. Such a complex was especially important for the Soviet military command from the point of view of providing reliable air defense in the north, north-west and to some extent in the Far Eastern direction. There, the radar field created using ground-based radar systems for air defense radar due to the physical deficiencies of ground-based radars (inability to detect, track and classify air targets flying at low and extremely low altitudes, at the required distance, therefore the actual detection range of such targets was only 10 – 30 km , and in areas with difficult terrain - and even less) and because of the geographical features of these regions (difficult terrain, distance from communications, etc., which required ohm costs for the construction of radar stations and the proper maintenance of their subsequent operation) is not allowed to provide reliable protection against massive enemy attacks with the use of modern means of air attack of various types, and in the first strategic bombers - the main striking force of the air forces of the USA and its allies.
As a result, on January 23 1962, the first Soviet long-range radar detection aircraft - the famous Tu-126 with the Liana radio complex - took off. A total of 8 serial machines were built, which allowed the radar field to cover the most dangerous northern direction at that time, and also made it possible to detect American aircraft carrier groups far off (for example, aircraft caught the “cruiser” target from 2 – 5 km at a distance to 400 km). At the same time, during the operation of the Tu-126, separate, often very significant shortcomings of the first domestic DRLO aviation complex emerged. For example, the possibilities for targeting fighter-interceptors turned out to be, contrary to expectations, seriously limited, which does not allow us to speak of the Tu-126 as a full-fledged DRLOI aircraft - by and large it remained a “clean” AEW aircraft. Serious restrictions on the operation of the machine and imposed a very low level of comfort for pilots and operators. Other weaknesses were identified. On the other hand, high reliability and safety of flight operations was demonstrated, which made it possible to avoid disasters.
As a result, it was decided to create an aviation complex for radar detection of a new generation. They became the A-50 aircraft, created on the basis of a military transport Il-76 airframe and equipped with the Bumblebee radio-technical complex. On the first flight, an experimental machine under the control of test pilot Vladimir Demyanovsky set off on December 19 1978.
Radio complex "Bumblebee" allowed to detect air targets of various classes and types, including speed and low-flying, over any types of the earth's surface. In addition, he had the opportunity with high efficiency to detect and surface targets of various classes and types at a range of radio horizon (about 400 km). The complex was able to determine the nationality and coordinates of the detected objects, as well as transmit the collected information (data) about the detected targets to command posts and automated control systems of all branches and branches of the Armed Forces. It was possible to carry out guidance on the detected air targets of its fighter aircraft, as well as take out airplanes (helicopters) of frontline (army) and naval aviation to the detected airplanes of the AWACS of the A-50 aircraft, which is most important in the conditions of the modern war in various theaters of military operations. ground and surface targets.
Airborne combat aircraft of type A-50 allowed the command of the Armed Forces to ensure the full radar coverage of the country's borders with the possibility of its rapid build-up in threatened areas. In addition, these aviation complexes made it possible to push the line of detection of aircraft (primarily strategic bombers) and surface ships (primarily aircraft carriers) of a potential enemy many hundreds of kilometers from the borders of the Union, creating an impenetrable radar barrier over Europe and Asia, as well as over the Atlantic , Arctic and Pacific oceans.
In the work "70 years. The flight continues, "dedicated to the anniversary of the developer of all domestic radio engineering systems for radar detection and control, and published in 2015 in the publishing house"Weapon and technology ”, provides two typical examples of the use of aircraft A-50:
- in April-May 2000, one of the A-50 aircraft performed a special mission in the Republic of India. The aircraft was redeployed to Chindigarh and Nasik airfields, where, together with the Indian Air Force, a total of 10 flights were made over the mountainous terrain in the Himalayan region near the Indo-Pakistan border;
- 8 August 2008 of the year with the outbreak of hostilities in South Ossetia, one of the A-50 was alerted and sent to the duty zone in the air to the southern border of Russia, and then two more A-50 aircraft were sent to the combat zone, as a result which was able to ensure the continuous management of aviation and take out the radar field to the enemy’s territory.
In 1990, it was decided to carry out a deep modernization of the A-50, within which it was planned to replace the radio-technical complexes standing on them. The upgraded DRLOU aircraft received the designation A-50U, and the radio-technical complex installed on it - “Shmel-M”.
The deep modernization of the on-board radar of the radio-technical complex significantly improved the tactical and technical characteristics of the latter, reduced the equipment weight (the complex weight was reduced by 8 tons), reduced the number of structural units of the complex, and reduced the radar equipment. In addition, the modernization of the complex allowed to abandon the "ears" - the shielding surfaces on the aircraft fuselage, which, in turn, improved the aerodynamic characteristics of the machine.
State joint trials
A-50 with the Bumblebee-M complex was completed in 2009, according to their results, it was revealed that the target detection range increased by 15 – 25%, the number of accompanied targets increased 6 times, and the number of hoverings - 2 times. The first A-50, serially upgraded to the A-50U version, was an aircraft with the tail number “47 Red”. He was handed over to the customer on October 31 2011.
Taking into account the limited service life of DRLOI planes of the A-50 family, built in Soviet times, as well as the objective deficiencies characteristic of the non-modernized part of the radio-technical complex, in 2006, experimental design work was set up to create a multi-purpose radar patrol system and targeting a new generation, designated A-100 (OCD "Premier 476") and made the first flight of 18 in November of this year. At the same time, the new complex, as envisioned by the customer and the developer, should have a number of unique features, namely: the ability to work in hidden modes; increased stability in the conditions of fire and electronic countermeasures of the enemy; advanced capabilities for solving problems of intelligence situation, etc.
At the same time, it was decided to create a new generation DRLOU aircraft based on the airframe of an upgraded Il-76MD-90А military transport aircraft, equipped with economical PS-90А-76 engines and the latest onboard radioelectronic equipment, including modern flight and navigation complex, automatic control system and communication complex .
In the process of creating a new radio engineering complex, the developer solved the following tasks: introduced additional means of passive detection of objects; ensured the operation of equipment in various ranges; widely used active and passive phased antenna arrays in the antenna systems of the components of the complex, etc. “Creating such a complex would not be possible without applying advanced data processing algorithms, intelligent decision support and control of subordinate tools in the onboard computing system, taking into account the modern technical capabilities of information sensors and combat capabilities of the newest aircraft, ”- stated in the above-mentioned work“ 70 years. The flight continues. ”
At the same time, one of the most important features of the new Russian AWACS will be its dual-band radar, which is used for the first time in the world at the aviation complex of this class and, unlike centimeter-range stations on A-50 family, will have higher capabilities for detecting various targets, and in the first place - the inconspicuous aircraft built using stealth technology.
“I would venture to say that this is a breakthrough job, because the highlight of this job is a new dual-band locator, which currently has the ultimate characteristics. Therefore, we can assume that A-100 is a revolutionary work that will determine the appearance of early-warning aircraft for many years, ”Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov emphasized in the Military Acceptance program on Zvezda TV channel.
Ahead of the "weave" is not yet one test flight, the development of the radio-technical complex and other systems, and from 2020, the new aviation complex of the long-range radar detection and control will begin to be mass-supplied to the troops. This was announced at a recent conference call by Russian Defense Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu.