Tag Archives: A-50

India: “Only half the combat fleet operational”

On paper the Indian Air Force has roughly 700 fighter and strike jets, but in reality slightly only about half are operational raising concern about how effective the military of the 2nd largest population in the world is being protected.

The average aircraft availability measured over the entire year is about 50 to 55 percent, Defence officials have admitted towards the parliamentary committee on defence matters. About 20 percent of those jets are simply grounded because of the lack of spare parts, but Indian Air Force sources say that concerns mostly the older Soviet-era jets like the approx. 120 MiG-21 Bisons, 80 MiG-27 Bahadurs and 130 to 135 SEPECAT Shamshers (Jaguars).

An Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 (Image © Marcel Burger)
An Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 (Image © Marcel Burger)

Indian MiG-29, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30MKI

What the status is on the 60 to 65 MiG-29 Baaz’s and the 56 Mirage 2000 Vajras and the almost 230 Sukhoi Su-30MKI is not fully known – but the Airheadsfly.com article on the IAF MiG-29 is still one of the best read pieces on our web. In 2014 the Sukhoi Su-30MKI fleet had huge problems and despite the issue has been addressed somewhat the India’s Auditor General still called the matter “unresolved” in August 2015.

Ilyushing/Beriev A-50 AWACS

The government watchdog authority also slashed the reputation of the Air Force’s three Ilyushin/Beriev A-50 AWACS aircraft. Lack of trained aircrew, lack of bases to operate from, lack of funds and resources for the aircraft maintenance have seriously hampered the effectiveness of the airborne radar and intelligence gathering platforms.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): An Indian Air Force MiG-21 (Image © Indian Air Force)

India: “Airbus aiming for Air Force A330 AWACS”

Airbus is said to be aiming to provide the Indian Air Force with two A330 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft, according to sources within the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of the large Asian nation.

.. and a study of a Sentry from a KC-135R tanker. Image © Dennis Spronk)
AHF↑Inside: NATO’s AWACS Nest
On guidance by the DRDO the Indian Ministry of Defence seems to be willing to go ahead with the development of an semi-indigenous AWACS together with an international partner. Many experts believed Russia’s new Beriev/Ilyushin A-100 Premier would’ve stand a good change, while the Indian Air Force already ordered five somewhat similar Beriev/Ilyushin A-50E/I Phalcon AWACS planes with at least three operational. But, according to the The Economic Times of India only Airbus has shown serious interest and that India will go ahead with Airbus.

The bid by Airbus is remarkable, since the European consortium has not developed an AWACS plane before. This could mean a long developing time and possibly many issues – especially with the expected Indian requirements and integration of Indian made and developed systems. However, Airbus also hadn’t developed a tanker aircraft before but the current A330 MRTT / KC-30 is now an established military asset with several air forces – including the RAF as the Voyager flown by AirTanker – and a tough competitor for Boeing’s new KC-46 still in its development phase.

The DRDO is a serious player when it comes to the Indian military requirements. The organisation has been the engine behind the Indian Air Force’s smaller Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEWACS), based on the Embraer ERJ 145 business jet with an adapted EL/W-2090 AWACS systems in a boom antenna on the back of the aircraft provided by Israel. Three of these DRDO/ERJ AEWACS are set to be operational in 2015, with an requirement for six to fourteen more.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): After the tanker version, will the A330 also surface as a AWACS? (Image © Airbus)

An Indian Air Force DRDO/Embraer ERJ 145 AEWACS (Image (CC) Pritish Kumar Patil)
An Indian Air Force DRDO/Embraer ERJ 145 AEWACS (Image (CC) Pritish Kumar Patil)

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.

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)

Round up: Russians intercepted in 2014

Amazingly close this Su-27 comes to the Swedish Air Force S 102B Korpen, imaged released by the Swedish Signal Intelligence Authority (Image © FRA)
In July, this Russian Air Force Su-27 came amazingly close to a Swedish Air Force S 102B Gulfstream IV.
(Image © FRA)

NATO on Wednesday 29 October 2014 sounded the alarm over Russian aircraft heading out in the skies over Europe far more often recently. So far in 2014, NATO fighter aircraft conducted over 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft, which is about three times more than were conducted in 2013. A round up of known intercepts is below.

Only last week, a Russian Il-20 spy plane was caught in international airspace after it took off in Kaliningrad and headed over the Baltic Sea towards Denmark. NATO F-16s soon caught up with it. On 21 September Danish F-16s along with fighter aircraft from Finland and Sweden (both non-members of NATO but participants in the Partnership for Peace program) chased two Tu-22M Backfires and two Su-27 Flankers, while on the same day German Typhoons played cat and mouse with two Flankers near the Baltics.

A Tupolev Tu-22M3 of the type that simulated attack on Sweden during Eastern 2013 (Image © Max)
A Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire medium range  bomber. (Image © Max)

Royal Air Force Typhoons took off from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland on 19 September, to intercept two Tu-95 Russian Bear H bombers in international airspace. Several days earlier, on Wednesday 17 September, Sweden picked up two Su-24 Fencers, which later were also shadowed by NATO aircraft.

On Thursday 28 August a Russian An-72 flew close to Helsinki, forcing the Finnish Air Force to send up F/A-18 Hornets. On 21 August, Danish, Dutch and UK fighters intercepted two Tu-95 Bears over the North Sea. The same thing happened in April.

In June, Royal Air Force Typhoons based in Lithuania met with four Russian Su-27s, two Tu22 Backfire bomber, one Beriev A50 Mainstay early-warning aircraft and an An-26 Curl transport aircraft.

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)

Body check
In July, A Russian Flanker ‘body checked’ a Swedish S-102B (Gulfstream IV) over the Baltic Sea. Another incident happened on 18 July 2014, when a US Air Force RC-135 spy plane was supposedly on the run for Russian aircraft over the Baltic Sea and trespassed Swedish airspace while doing so.

NATO Air Policing
As a reply to Russian interference in Ukraine, NATO fortified the Baltic Air Policing mission in the Baltic states and Poland earlier this year. Currently, Canadian F/A-18 Hornets, Portuguese F-16s, German Eurofighter Typhoons and Dutch F-16s are involved in this mission, flying from Ämari airbase in Estonia, Šiauliai airbase in Lithuania and Malbork in Poland. Meanwhile, Czech Air Force Saab Gripens are watching the skies over Iceland.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

Like in the skies over the Baltic republics seen here over Šiauliai Airbase, the Canadian CF-188s will operate next to F-16s in Kuwait. In Lithuania it are Vipers from the Portuguese Air Force, in Kuwait it will be Fighting Falcons from the Royal Danish Air Force (Image © Cpl Gabrielle DesRochers / RCAF)
A Portuguese F-16 and a Canadian CF-18 Hornet break over Šiauliai Airbase.  (Image © Cpl Gabrielle DesRochers / RCAF)

Russia forwards extra Flankers to Belarus

A Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 (Image © Vitaly V. Kuzmin)
A Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 (Image © Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

LATEST UPDATE 17 MARCH 2014 | On request by the Belarus leadership Russia deployed six additional Sukhoi Su-27 (Flanker) fighter jets plus three unspecified transport aircraft to its western neighbour. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence a Beriev/Ilyshin A-50 Mainstay AWACS was added just before the weekend, probably as a reaction to NATO’s AWACS patrols on the other side of the border.

The Belarus Ministry of Defence confirmed the A-50 operates from Baranavichy, while the other extra Russian aircraft deployed to Bobruisk Airbase on 13 March 2014, officially to hold joint exercises with the Belarus air force. The Belarus Ministry of Defence says the purpose is “to test the readiness of the united regional air defence system as a whole with the involvement of her Russian component”. But it added: “In case of further build-up of troops in neighbouring states of the territory of Belarus, adequate response measures will be taken.” Thereby Belarus makes a clear signal to NATO and the United States. The USAFE sent 12 F-16s to Poland and 6 F-15s plus a KC-135 to Lithuania in response of Russian actions at the Crimea peninsula and the Russian large-scale readiness exercise.

To support the Belarus military there is already a permanent Russian military deployment at Baranavichy Airbase. AIRheads↑Fly received some conflicting reports lately about the status of the Russian-made fighter jets of Belarus. The latest is that the Belarusian Air Force’s decommissioned Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer bombers will be put back into action, but it is not certain weather this is for a possible sale or recommissioning.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

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Bobruisk Airbase, Belarus | View Larger Map