Beriev A-50


Airborne early warning and control aircraft A-50U (Red 41).jpg
Beriev A-50
Role Airborne early warning and control
Manufacturer Beriev
First flight 19 December 1978
Introduction 1984
Status In service
Primary users Russian Air Force
Indian Air Force
Produced 1978–1992
Number built ~40
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.[1] 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)[2] Detection range is 650 kilometres (400 mi) for air targets and 300 kilometres (190 mi) for ground targets.[3]

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.[4][5]

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).[citation needed][6]

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.[7]

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.[8] 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).[7] 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.

The A-50U upgrade forms the basis of the concept for Beriev A-100 AEW&C. Its configuration will be similar, but with a new Vega Premier active electronically scanned array radar.[7]

In late December 2015, the A-50 started operations over Syria, flying from Russia, to support Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[9] In December 2018, it was deployed to Crimea.[10]


Indian Air Force Beriev A-50EI
  • A-50M – Updated variant of the A-50 fitted with mid-air refueling capability.[11]
  • A-50U – Updated variant of the A-50M with modern electronics and increased crew comfort.[12][13]
  • Izdeliye-676[14] – One-off stop-gap telemetry and tracking aircraft.
  • Izdeliye-776[14] – One-off stop-gap telemetry and tracking aircraft.
  • Izdeliye-976 (SKIP)[14] – (Airborne Check-Measure-and-Control Center) – Il-76-based Range Control and Missile tracking platform. Initially built to support Raduga Kh-55 cruise missile tests.
  • Izdeliye-1076[14] – One-off special mission aircraft with unknown duties.
  • A-50EI – An export version for the Indian Air Force with Aviadvigatel PS-90A-76 engines and Israeli EL/W-2090 radar.[15]


A Russian A-50U at Vladivostok International Airport 2019
 Soviet Union

Specifications (A-50)

Orthographically projected diagram of the Beriev A-50.

Data from[citation needed]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 15
  • Length: 49.59 m (162 ft 8 in)
  • Wingspan: 50.5 m (165 ft 8 in)
  • Height: 14.76 m (48 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 300 m2 (3,200 sq ft)
  • Airfoil: root: TsAGI P-151 (13%); tip: TsAGI P-151 (10%)[17]
  • Empty weight: 75,000 kg (165,347 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 170,000 kg (374,786 lb)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Soloviev D-30KP turbofan engines, 117.68 kN (26,460 lbf) thrust each


  • Maximum speed: 900 km/h (560 mph, 490 kn)
  • Range: 7,500 km (4,700 mi, 4,000 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,000 ft)

See also

Related development:

Comparable aircraft:


  1. ^ The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal, David E. Hoffman, location 2330, Kindle edition.
  2. ^ "Beriev A-50 Mainstay". Archived from the original on 2020-10-17.
  3. ^ "Russian Air Force takes delivery of fourth upgraded A-50U AEW&C aircraft". Archived from the original on 2017-03-12. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  4. ^ "Image: A50b.jpg, (1024 × 768 px)". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  5. ^ "Image: A50.jpg, (1024 × 768 px)". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  6. ^ "Видео новейшего "летающего радара" А-50У" (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2017-03-31. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  7. ^ a b c "Beriev delivers first upgraded A-50U Mainstay". Air Forces Monthly (286): 28. January 2012.
  8. ^ "key.Aero, Military Aviation". Archived from the original on 2012-06-11. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  9. ^ Ripley, Tim (13 January 2016). "Russia operates 'Mainstay' AEW&Cs over Syria". Jane's Defence Weekly. Surrey, UK: Jane's Information Group. 53 (10). ISSN 0265-3818.
  10. ^ "Russia reinforces Crimea". Archived from the original on 2018-12-13. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  11. ^ Sputnik. "Russia modernizes fleet of A-50M AWACS planes". Archived from the original on 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  12. ^ "Photos: Beriev A-50U Aircraft Pictures | | Photo of prototype A-50U (37 RED) on which the state joint tests of the modernised complex were conducted". Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  13. ^ "Russia continues A-50 AEW&C upgrade work". Archived from the original on 2019-01-01. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  14. ^ a b c d [Gordon, Yefim, OKB Ilyushin, 2004, London]
  15. ^ "Take-off Magazine : Beriev delivered third A-50EI". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  16. ^ a b "World Air Forces 2021". Flightglobal Insight. 2021. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  17. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Retrieved 16 April 2019.

Further reading

  • Yefim Gordon, Dmitriy Kommisarov: Flight Craft 6: Il'yushin/Beriyev A-50. Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2015, ISBN 978-1-4738-2391-4
  • Yefim Gordon, Dmitriy Komissarov, Sergey Komissarov: OBB Ilyushin: A History of the Design Bureau and Its Aircraft ISBN 978-1-8578-0187-3

External links

  • Beriev A-50
  • – Beriev A-50 Mainstay
  • A-50
  • – A-50 Mainstay
  • Source article of NVO (in Russian)
  • Iranian AEW (in Persian)