|Beriev A-60 1A2 flying laboratory|
|Role||Airborne laser laboratory|
|First flight||19 August 1981|
|Primary user||Soviet/Russian Air Force|
|Developed from||Ilyushin Il-76MD|
In the 1970s a special aviation complex was established by the Soviets at Taganrog machine-building factory to develop airborne laser technology for the Soviet military.
In 1977 Beriev OKB started the design of a flying laboratory designated '1А'. The purpose was to solve the complex scientific and engineering problems regarding the creation of an airborne laser and also to facilitate research on the distribution of beams in the top layers of an atmosphere. Work on this topic occurred with wide cooperation between the enterprises and the scientific organizations of the USSR, but the basic partner OKB was TSKB Almaz headed by B.V.Bunkin.
The Il-76MD was selected as a base aircraft for the flying laboratory. In order to accommodate the laser a lot of changes were done on the basic Il-76 design. These modifications have drastically changed the appearance of the plane.
- In front, instead of the regular nosecone, it was fitted with a steerable beam director turret for targeting lidar (years later, Boeing used a similar concept in the YAL-1 test platform, although for main laser, not targeting).
- A large retractable dorsal turret was installed for main laser firing, as engineers found it impossible to fit the main laser aiming optics into the nosecone turret.
- Two large nacelles were installed along the lower edge of the fuselage; one which housed the turbo generators used to power the laser, and another replacing the "chin" cabin, housing the targeting lidar's APU.
- The rear cargo doors were removed, although the ramp was kept, as it was a structural element.
- The tail gunner position was also removed.
Hence the problem of accommodating the laser gun was solved and it did not spoil the aerodynamics of the base aircraft. The laser system was 1 MW, created by one of the branches of the Institute of Atomic Energy, Kurchatov. This gas laser, operating on carbon dioxide, was developed for installation on the aircraft IL-76.
The '1A' flying laboratory first flew on 19 August 1981 under E.A. Lakhmostov.
On 29 August 1991, the crew led by test pilot V.P. Demyanovski flew the second flying laboratory which received the name '1А2' СССР-86879. A new variant of a laser system was installed as a result of various tests on '1А'.
Apparently, after being mothballed for more than a decade and half, the project recently (May 2009) was reactivated, according to the eyewitness accounts about an A-60 spotted flying in Rostov on Don and Taganrog region. Now it is parked in Taganrog airport. 47°11'53.92"N 38°51'46.05"E
- A-60 description
- Picture of A-60 flying
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Beriev A-60.|
- A-60 description in Russian.
- A-60 - "laser sword of USSR", or "30 years before laser Boeing" in Russian
- A-60 in Russian