A scout was usually associated with an aircraft equipped primarily with photo equipment (such as the famous German FW.189, or “frame”). However, at the beginning of the 50-s, such aircraft gave way to radars that detect and classify radio-electronic radiation, and radio-electronic reconnaissance complexes. The United States naval forces were the first to equip naval patrol aircraft PBY1944-4 Privatir against Japan in the 2 with radars and electronic reconnaissance systems. Flying around Japanese bases and ports, they followed the movement of warships and transport ships. With the beginning of the Cold War, the spies moved to Europe, where they observed the Soviet Union, trying not to violate the state border. 8 April 1950 PBY4-2 squadron VP-26 was shot down by Soviet fighters, according to US sources, over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea. And according to the command of the air defense of the USSR, in fact, the Americans operated in the region of Klaipeda.
Airplane or ship?
In the middle of the 50s, the United States created a strategic command of the Air Force and divided the intelligence officers into tactical (acted in the interests of armies, corps, divisions, and commands in the theater of operations) and strategic (provided for the use of nuclear forces). The first strategic reconnaissance aircraft were the converted RB-29, RB-50 and RB-47 bombers, which flew along the borders of the USSR in order to reveal the grouping of air defense systems and facilitate the breakthrough of nuclear-powered strike vehicles.
With the advent of intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic intelligence officers were tasked with monitoring the testing of Soviet ICBMs, submarines, airplanes, etc. In 60, the strategic command sent its reconnaissance aircraft for timely warning of a Soviet offensive in the western strategic direction. to the UK and Germany.
Patrolling along the "black line" (as the US Air Force called the border between East and West Germany), air spies monitored the work of radio stations, radar stations, the movement of the Warsaw Pact and, in case of unusual activity, notified the joint command of NATO in Europe. Crews sought not to leave their airspace, but, according to the US Air Force, from the beginning of the 50's to the end of the 70's, about 40 vehicles performing reconnaissance flights were lost. More than half of the annual raid accounted for the waters of the Barents Sea, as well as the Pacific Ocean in the region of Sakhalin, Kamchatka and Vladivostok.
“Due to its geographical position, the USSR had no urgent need to have strategic reconnaissance aircraft as part of the Navy,” the military historian, author of books on stories Soviet and Russian Navy fleet Dmitry Boltenkov. According to the expert, the functions of long-range reconnaissance were decided by the Tu-95RC, IL-20M and Tu-95MR. “But to conduct intelligence activities of the US armed forces on their territory was almost impossible. We did not have then and now a deployed system of air bases around the world. For these purposes, the USSR Navy has created a large fleet of reconnaissance ships, capable of staying for a long time both on the North American continent and on military facilities of interest in other regions, ”said the historian. He also added that reconnaissance ships were present in all exercises or tests of new systems. weapons NATO.
In the 70-ies were created IL-20 on the basis of passenger turboprop IL-18 for conducting radar and radio intelligence in Europe. Later they complemented An-26РР.
The reconnaissance ships of the USSR Navy did not always have time to the necessary areas. The US base on the atoll of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific atolls Guam and Kwajalein remained out of sight. Therefore, on the basis of the long-range Tu-95, a modification of the Tu-95Р was released, later upgraded to a Tu-95МР with side-looking radar, aircraft cameras and a radio intelligence complex.
"Strategists" in Afghanistan
The capabilities of strategic reconnaissance aircraft in local conflicts were the first to be tested by the United States in Korea and Vietnam, and then by the USSR in Afghanistan. While in Vietnam, American aviation actively used the RC-135, U-2 and SR-71, then the Soviet Il-20М, An-26РР and Tu-95МР were used limitedly. As the former commander of the army aviation of the Russian Air Force, a participant in the hostilities in Afghanistan, Vitaly Pavlov, told the Military Industrial Courier, the main burden fell on the An-30: a separate mixed aviation regiment (OCAP) in Kabul, which provided air reconnaissance. Worked An-20. One was in my regiment, but the task of his crew put the competent authorities. " According to him, these aircraft mainly engaged in aerial photography of the area.
Nevertheless, An-26РР at the Kabul airfield had been, there are relevant photos and memories of participants in the war. "The Twenty-sixth" followed the air defense and communications equipment of neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
“IL-20М and An-26РР worked along the lines of the GRU, but formally they were part of the mixed aviation regiments under the command of military districts. "Ilyushin" performed strategic tasks, and "Antonov" - operational in the interests of the armies and military districts. When 50 was formed, the O-26PP entered the state. It was necessary a few more to securely cover Pakistan and Iran, as well as detachments of the Mujahideen. Il-20 would be useful here, but they were not given away, and the entire burden fell on the "twenty-sixth" and "thirties", the Air Force officer who served in Afghanistan told "MIC". According to him, all information on the activities of reconnaissance aircraft in that war remains closed.
Following the results of combat use, the USAF recognized the high effectiveness of the RC-135 and U-2. In the middle of 80-s, a program was launched to modernize them with the task of making universal machines capable of continuously conducting radio engineering, species and radar reconnaissance. Being at an altitude of eight to ten thousand meters, the upgraded RC-135V / W "River Join" detect an object by radio emission, take it to escort a complex reconnaissance complex consisting of several television and infrared cameras, track the movement of equipment using side radar. All information is transmitted to the higher headquarters.
U-2R "Dragon Lady", equipped not only with cameras, but also with ASARS-2 synthesized aperture radar and radio intelligence complex, underwent a similar refinement. Hanging out at an altitude of 22 – 25 thousand meters, “Dragon Lady” covers an area of several hundred kilometers, and thanks to the satellite information exchange system, the data is immediately transmitted to all interested authorities. The high reputation of the RC-135 and U-2R has been confirmed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the ongoing struggle against Somali pirates.
In the middle of 90, the development of the Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance RQ-4 began, which was supposed to replace RC-135 and U-2R before 2010. But the forecasts turned out to be too optimistic: the European partners in NATO refused to purchase Euro Hawk (variant RQ-4), and in the United States themselves, President Obama reduced the purchases of UAVs. So the financing of the upgrades RC-135 and U-2R has not stopped, but only increases. Last year, the US Air Force report on the development prospects outlined the extension of the service life of the aircraft to 2025 – 2030.
Shaking and yawing
At the end of the 80-s, the GRU of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces and the Air Force believed that for local conflicts, the upgraded An-26РР and An-30 with the equipment for intercepting radio communications and detecting the source of radio communication would suffice. Such machines, subordinated to the commanders of the armies and fronts, are equally effective in a major war and local conflict, and strategic intelligence must still be entrusted to IL-20M and Tu-95MR.
The collapse of the USSR violated this concept. An-26РР and An-30 have not been modernized, Tu-95MR was written off altogether. The money was only enough to maintain the flying state of the IL-20M. In 2002, the GRU entered into an agreement with the Tupolev Design Bureau and KAPO for the development of an aviation radio and optical intelligence complex under the code Fraction. The developers of side-looking radars and radio intelligence stations were Vega Concern and TsNIRTI. Berg The plane received the name of the Tu-214P, the first board was required to transfer to the customer in 2007-m, the second - two years later. The cost of the contract was estimated at more than five billion rubles.
The plane promised to be no worse than the American RC-135. But on tests, and without the intelligence complex, it was released only in 2009 year. In the breakdown of the term, "Tupolev" and KAPO blamed the developers of avionics.
“Radars and radio intelligence complex were created at the end of the 90-s under the Tu-334. Based on its flight characteristics, optimal flight conditions were set. But the Tu-334 did not appear, so the equipment was decided to be put on the Tu-214, and this is a different aircraft, ”a representative of the military-industrial complex who participated in the work shared with the Military Industrial Courier newspaper. According to him, the military demanded a car capable of flying from unprepared airfields. “For the operation of the complex, it is necessary for the aircraft to drop speed at an altitude of about eight thousand meters to 600 kilometers per hour. In addition, the low location of the engines imposes restrictions on aerodromes, where it can be based, ”the source continued.
Tired of supply disruptions, the GRU, represented by the military unit 45807, at the beginning of 2012, filed a lawsuit to the Arbitration Court for a 1,2 billion rubles to the Kazan Aviation Plant. The lawsuit was also prepared for the Tupolev Commercial Bank.
17 December 2012, the first Tu-214Р, flying close to the territorial waters of Japan, was photographed by the F-15 air force pilots of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Later it became known that the flight took place with great difficulty. Forced to slow down for optimal performance of the onboard complex, the pilots encountered jolting and yawing, which had to be compensated by increasing the angle of attack. There was a real threat that the aircraft would exit to critical flight conditions. Then there was information that the military want to abandon the second car.
“Now the Tu-214P is being tested in the 929 GLITS at the Chkalovsky airfield. After flying to Japan, the plane was driven back to Kazan, where it was finalized. Then he was again transferred to GLITS for testing. The second board is in KAPO. There is still no decision whether to finish building it or not, ”a representative of the military-industrial complex, familiar with the situation, told MIC. In turn, an employee of TsAGI told the publication that the “medical history” of the Tu-214Р looks very strange.
“According to the Flight Manual (RLE), he starts buffing, and alarms are triggered at an altitude of eight thousand meters at Mach 0,45 speed. The Tu-334 on the RLE has a Mach 0,41 speed, almost no difference, ”the source explained. In his opinion, while reducing the speed, it is necessary to activate the wing mechanization. “On the tests, the Tu-214 flew on the“ bare ”wing, without slats and flaps released, as it is a passenger liner and such flight modes are not needed by it. To teach him to fly at the necessary military speeds, no need to invent a new wing, change the slats and flaps. It is necessary to test how the aircraft behaves with the wing mechanization revealed at altitude, to refine the warning and control systems. Apparently, they are doing it now in 929 GLITS, ”continued the TsAGI expert.
It is good that the problem has become known and they are trying to solve it. But the project is more than ten years old, and it is not clear that the Tupolev design bureau and the Kazan aircraft factory have been doing all this time. If the customer refuses the second aircraft, it turns out that even such a simple problem as flying on the desired modes, aircraft manufacturers could not solve for such a long time.
While the epic continues with the Tu-214P, the Vector research institute has successfully begun the modernization of the remaining IL-20М. The characteristics of the new system remain secret. IL-20М due to turboprop engines is capable of performing long flights at low speed in specified areas, ensuring comfortable operation of all on-board reconnaissance equipment. The Ilova resource is consumed only by 30 – 40 percent. Having equipped them with a modified “Fraction” complex from the Tu-214Р, the Defense Ministry can get a universal reconnaissance aircraft with very high capabilities.
The US Air Force also buys the MC-12W turboprop for the 9 th reconnaissance wing, which performs strategic reconnaissance missions. After the British Royal Air Forces reconnaissance Nimrod R2010 retired in 2, the US Air Force was the only one with high-tech strategic reconnaissance aircraft. But the creation of the “Faction”, despite the problems with the carrier, proves that the Russian radio-electronic industry is still capable of creating competitive samples of weapons and military equipment.