Experienced A-50U, rebuilt according to the serial project and received the name "Sergey Atayants". Photo Russianplanes.net
In the mid-eighties for the USSR Air Force was created the latest aircraft long-range radar surveillance and control (AWACS) A-50. The operation of such equipment continues to this day, and it is an essential component of the videoconferencing system. However, the A-50 in its original form has long failed to meet current requirements, which is why a gradual modernization of the available fleet is carried out according to the modern A-50U project.
Features of the park
Serial production of A-50 aircraft was carried out during the eighties and ended in the early nineties. During this time, the industry transferred to the customer approx. 30 aircraft with special equipment. The equipment was distributed between four parts in different strategic directions. However, after the collapse of the USSR and the ensuing problems, reduction and disbandment began.
According to various sources, currently there are about twenty A-50 planes of the original and modernized version in the Russian aerospace forces. The bulk of this fleet is the base A-50 - approx. two thirds. 6 modernized A-50Us have already been put into operation. Also, several aircraft of the old version are in storage.
All combatant A-50 (U) now belong aviation the combat use group of AWACS aircraft from the 610th Combat Use and Retraining Center. The equipment is based on the Ivanovo-Severny airdrome and, if necessary, can be transferred to other parts of the country or even to foreign bases.
Features of modernization
The onboard equipment of the original A-50 is built on the technology of the seventies and eighties with all their features and limitations. In this regard, in 2003, the development of a modernization project began, the task of which was to replace obsolete equipment with an increase in the basic flight and target characteristics.
Plane no 33 after repair and modernization. Photo Russianplanes.net
The head developer of the A-50U project was the Vega radio engineering concern. Repair of aircraft and replacement of equipment was ordered by the Taganrog ANTK them. G.M. Berieva. To date, these organizations and subcontractors have mastered all the modernization processes and continue to produce equipment.
The serial A-50s carried the Bumblebee or Bumblebee-M radio complex, including a three-coordinate radar with a large-sized dorsal antenna and an Argon-50 digital computer. It also provided for the installation of communication equipment for transmitting data on the air situation and control. The operability of all special systems was provided by a number of units for various purposes.
The A-50U project provides for the complete replacement of the radio complex. The new complex from Vega includes digital radar and computing facilities based on a modern elemental base, including import. Due to this, the basic capabilities for detecting air, ground or surface targets have been improved. In accordance with the new requirements, communication and data transmission facilities have been updated. Jobs so-called tactical crews rebuilt using new equipment. In particular, the electron beam monitors are replaced by liquid crystal monitors.
An important feature of the A-50U project was a sharp reduction in volumes for the placement of special equipment, as well as a decrease in energy supply requirements, etc. This allowed to free up space under the recreation compartment for the flight and tactical crews. It has space for accommodation, a buffet and other necessary equipment.
Airplane "33" after repainting and naming. Photo by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation / mil.ru
According to the results of such modernization, the A-50U retains the basic flight performance of the base machine, but receives the benefits associated with the new target equipment. It also simplifies operation and management. However, the project was criticized: first of all, due to the widespread use of imported components in the absence of domestic analogues.
In the second half of the two thousandths, Vega and TANTK them. Beriev carried out the repair of the drill A-50 (serial number 58-05, airborne 37) with modernization according to the project with the letter "U", after which his tests took place. In 2009, state tests were completed with a recommendation for the adoption of equipment for armament and production. Soon a contract was signed for three A-50U aircraft.
In 2010, the serial modernization of equipment began. The first to fly on her combat aircraft with b / n 47 (s / n 40-05), which began service in 1984, the main work was completed in the summer of 2011, after which the tests took place. On October 31, the finished A-50U was handed over to the customer. Soon, the car returned to Ivanovo and continued its service.
By this time, aircraft n / a 33 (s / n 41-05) arrived at TANTK, which was to become the second production A-50U. Modernization work took a little more than a year, and in April 2013 the plane was returned to the Air Force. Later this car was named “Vladimir Ivanov” in honor of the chief designer of radio equipment for the A-50.
"Taganrog" flies to the duty station, March 6, 2017 Photo UAC / uacrussia.ru
In March 2014, an act was signed on acceptance of the third serial A-50U with a personal name “Sergey Atayants” - it was named in honor of the chief designer of the aviation part of the complex. It is curious that earlier this aircraft was used as an experienced one. After testing, it was finalized and made the third serial.
The transfer of “Sergey Atayants” completed the first contract, and in the same 2014 a new order appeared. The Taganrog aircraft was upgraded along it (b / n 41, s / n 63-05). Its first flight after modernization took place in December 2016, and on March 6, 2017, the car was handed over to the customer. In December 2018, the A-50U with b / n 45 (s / n 71-05) returned to the VKS
The next was a 1988 aircraft built with b / n 42 (s / n 64-05). Work on it began in 2017 and lasted more than a year. On March 28, 2019, he was transferred to the VKS. At the moment, the A-50U b / n is the “extreme” machine of its type, which completed the modernization. New aircraft after him have not yet been transmitted.
Plans for the near future were announced last year, simultaneously with the delivery of the sixth aircraft. The management of the concern "Vega" said that at TANTK them. Beriev is already undergoing work to repair and re-equip the next A-50. According to plans, he will return to service in 2021.
A-50U, b / n 45 - the sixth serial. December 6, 2018 Photo by UAC / uacrussia.ru
Recently, new information has appeared about the future of the A-50U project. On May 18, Izvestia reported that the delivery of two planes at once was planned for 2021. An unnamed source in the defense industry also indicated the cost of the work. The modernization of each of the aircraft will cost the Ministry of Defense more than 600 million rubles.
Features of the future
Thus, to date, six combat aircraft have undergone modernization to the A-50U, and two more will join them soon. Of the two dozen cars, eight will correspond to the newest project. It is possible that a new order is already being prepared, and over the next few years the number of updated A-50s will increase.
It should be noted that the prospects of the A-50 (U) aircraft directly depend on the progress and success of another project. For several years, the development of the promising AWACS A-100 Premier aircraft has been ongoing. The bulk of the design work was completed, and in 2016, tests of a flying laboratory based on the serial A-50 started. A year later, a full-fledged prototype was completed and lifted into the air.
It is expected that the A-100 will go into service in the early twenties, and production aircraft of this type will begin to complement the existing A-50 (U). The Ministry of Defense has not yet told how it plans to update the fleet of AWACS aircraft after the advent of a fundamentally new model. It can be assumed that the construction of serial A-100s will not stop the modernization of the A-50 to the “U” state. At the same time, the ratio of the number of new and updated cars will constantly change.
However, the newest A-100 is still not ready for production and operation in the army, and therefore the A-50U remains the newest model of its class in the Russian Aerospace Forces. The release of such equipment continues, although not at a high pace. Such measures allow not only to maintain the desired state of the fleet, but also to increase its potential. In the near future, it is the A-50U that can become the basis for a group of AWACS aircraft, and this status will remain for at least several years.