|Role||Airborne early warning and control|
|First flight||19 December 1978|
|Primary users||Russian Air Force|
Indian Air Force
|Developed from||Ilyushin Il-76|
|Developed into||Beriev A-100|
The Beriev A-50 (NATO reporting name: Mainstay) is a Soviet airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport. Developed to replace the Tupolev Tu-126 "Moss", the A-50 first flew in 1978. Its existence was revealed to the Western Bloc in 1980 by Adolf Tolkachev. It entered service in 1984, with about 40 produced by 1992.
The mission personnel of the 15-man crew derive data from the large Liana surveillance radar with its antenna in an over-fuselage rotodome, which has a diameter of 9 metres (30 ft) Detection range is 650 kilometres (400 mi) for air targets and 300 kilometres (190 mi) for ground targets.
The A-50 can control up to ten fighter aircraft for either air-to-air intercept or air-to-ground attack missions. The A-50 can fly four hours at 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from its base at a maximum takeoff weight of 190 metric tons (420,000 lb). The aircraft can be refuelled by Il-78 tankers.
The radar "Vega-M" is designed by MNIIP, Moscow, and produced by NPO Vega. The "Vega-M" can track up to 150 targets simultaneously within 230 kilometres (140 mi). Large targets, like surface ships, can be tracked at a distance of 400 kilometres (250 mi).
Development work on a modernized version, the A-50U, began in 2003; state tests started on 10 September 2008, using a Russian Air Force A-50 "37 Krasnyy" as a prototype. It replaces analog avionics with a new digital avionics suite, made by Vega Radio Engineering Corporation, that speeds data processing and improves signal tracking and target detection. Crew rest, toilet and galley facilities are also included in the upgrade.
After completing the joint state tests, Beriev has delivered the first A-50U to the Russian Air Force. The aircraft, "47 Krasnyy'"RF-92957, was handed over at Beriev's facility in Taganrog on 31 October 2011. It was accepted by an aircrew serving with the 2457th Aviation Base for Combat Operation of Airborne Early Warning Aircraft (Aviabaza Boevogo Primeneniya Samolyotov Dal'nego Radiolokatsionnogo Obnaruzheniya) at Ivanovo Severny, which is the only base using the A-50 operationally (it operates 16 aircraft). The fourth A-50U, "41 Taganrog", was delivered to the Russian Aerospace Forces on 7 March 2017. The fifth A-50U, "45 Krasnyy", was delivered on 6 December 2018.
In late December 2015, the A-50 started operations over Syria, flying from Russia, to support Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War. In December 2018, it was deployed to Crimea.
Data from
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