The 2nd Tupolev Tu-204R (prototype) spy plane has completed its planned initial test flight schedule on 31 October 2014, the Russian aircraft manufacturer/design bureau announced, and will now further integrate and test its mission suite.
“This is another important step towards the completion of construction of the products”, of which the electronic intelligence gathering package is known as MRC-411 or Project 411. The aircraft – marked clearly in test paint – was parked next to the first Tu-204R at the Tupolev test field.
Developed from the Tu-204 airliner the Tu-204R that will fly in Russian Air Force livery will have a ELINT suite, a side-looking Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), SIGINT equipment and COMINT gathering devices.
Russia plans to replace the aging IL-20 ELINT aircraft with the new Tu-204Rs, but the development was hit by delays last year. Moscow has only ordered two Tu-204Rs so far, with a third dubbed Tu-214ON (Tu-214OH) delivered to the Ministry of Defense from the Kazan Aircraf Plant on 4 July 2014. This ON-version will make inspection flights under the Open Skies Treaty between the countries of the former Warsaw Pact and NATO. It is fitted with seven different cameras, a radar and infrared scanning sensor.
Source: Tupolev, with additional reporting by Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger