The Beriev A-50U (No. 37), AWACS based on the Ilyushin IL-76 (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

Russia starts production A-100 AWACS

Russia has started production of its new generation of Airborne Warning and Control System Aircraft (AWACS). The first Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A (Ил-76МД-90А), the newest version of what NATO calls the Candid, was delivered to the Taganrog-based Beriev Aviation Scientific-Technical Complex (TANTK) on 21 November 2014.

The A-100 Premier will replace the current Beriev (/Ilyushin) A-50s in Russian Air Force service. Between 1978 and 1992 forty of these A-50s (NATO-name Mainstay) were produced, based on an older version of the IL-76, with 20 still in active service.

At the current production rate it takes about two years for every new IL-76MD-90A to roll out of the factory, with currently 13 machines on the line. They are equipped with modern Russian-made engines, new flight navigation complex and a digital automatic flight control system.

Test flight of the new Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A strategic airlifter (Image © Ilyushin)
Test flight of the new Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A strategic airlifter, on which the new A-100 will be based (Image © Ilyushin)

The IL-76MD-90s are currently produced by Aviastar and tested at the airport of Ulyanovsk-Vostochny. Beriev in Taganrog creates the special versions like the A-100 from already produced new machines.

Since Russia also aims at slowly get some of these new four-engine planes into the strategic airlift units, it is yet uncertain how fast the A-100s will take over from the A-50. Therefore a modernisation program for the A-50s is also underway.

The A-100 Premier will have a more advanced active phase array radar to detect and track both multiple airborne and land-based targets. According to Russian source information the older A-50 is able to only control and guide about 10 combat aircraft packages on either air-to-air or air-to-ground missions, while very much relying on each package having its own lead-man to to relay AWACS instructions.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, with source information by Ilyushing Aircraft Corp.

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The Beriev A-50U (No. 37), AWACS based on the Ilyushin IL-76 (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)
The Beriev A-50U, AWACS based on the Ilyushin IL-76 (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)