Russia’s new AWACS aircraft turns on its radar for the first time

Beriev The A-100 Premier, an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft intended to compete with NATO’s AWACS aircraft, made its first flight with the radar on.

The news was announced by the official TASS news agency. The theft took place on February 10, 2022, and was the first in a series of test flights expected to be conducted throughout the year.

No official information on the plane’s capabilities has been revealed, although TASS called the flight a “technological breakthrough” which, with the Tu-214ON, can “scare the United States”.

The Tu-214ON is an observation aircraft originally intended for Open Skies Treaty missions. The treaty allows mutual aerial surveillance of the military movements and strategic installations of the signatory countries. The use of a digital electro-optical sensor by the Tu-214ON had been at the center of a dispute between the United States and Russia in 2018. The two nations eventually withdrew from the treaty in 2021.

Development of the A-100 has begun in 2013. The aircraft is based on the Il-76MD-90A, a heavily modernized version of the Il-76 heavy cargo aircraft.

Converted by Beriev company, the A-100 has a large active electronically scanned array radar (AESA). According to preliminary information revealed in 2014, the radar was to be able to track up to 300 targets at ranges of up to 650 kilometers.

It was supposed to be higher than the Boeing E-3 Sentry with its AWACS system, the main AEW&C aircraft in the United States. In 2012, Aviastar SP, the factory that performed the Il-76 to A-100 conversion, was contracted to manufacture 39 A-100s. It is not known if this number has changed over the years.

In 2020Russia announced that testing of the A-100 prototype should be completed in 2024. In the same year, serial production of the aircraft should begin.

The A-100 is intended to replace the Beriev A-50, Russia’s current primary AEW&C system which entered service in 1984. Although 40 of these aircraft were produced, only around 16 are said to be operational with the Russian Air Force, some of them them being upgraded A-50Us.

Although based on the same platform as the A-50, the A-100 is expected to have longer range and loiter time, as well as increased resistance to electronic jamming, ability to track both air and ground targets and advanced data sharing. capacities.