Beriev A-50

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Beriev A-50 black white.jpg
Beriev A-50
Role Airborne early warning and control
Manufacturer Beriev
First flight 19 December 1978
Introduction 1984
Status In service
Primary users Russian Air Force
Indian Air Force
Produced 1978–1992
Number built Around 40
Developed from Ilyushin Il-76

The Beriev A-50 (NATO reporting name: Mainstay) is a Soviet airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport. The existence of the A-50 was revealed to the Western Bloc in 1980 by Adolf Tolkachev.[1] Developed to replace the Tupolev Tu-126 "Moss", the A-50 first flew in 1978. It entered service in 1984, with about 40 produced by 1992.


Russian Air Force A-50
Indian Air Force Beriev A-50EI Mainstay

The mission personnel of the 15-man crew derive data from the large Liana surveillance radar with its antenna in an over-fuselage rotodome, which has a diameter of 9 m (29 ft 9 in).[citation needed] Detection range is 650 km for air targets and 300 km for ground targets.[2]

The A-50 can control up to ten fighter aircraft for either air-to-air intercept or air-to-ground attack missions. The A-50 is capable of flying four hours at 1000 km from its base at a maximum takeoff weight of 190 tons. The aircraft can be refuelled by Il-78 tankers.[3][4]

The radar "Vega-M" is designed by MNIIP, Moscow, and produced by NPO Vega. The "Vega-M" is capable of tracking up to 150 targets simultaneously within 230 kilometers. Large targets, like surface ships, can be tracked at a distance of 400 km.[citation needed][5]

After completing State Joint Tests, Beriev has delivered the first upgraded Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft to the Russian Air Force. The aircraft, '47 Red'/RF-92957 was handed over at Beriev's facility in Taganrog on October 31, 2011.[6] It was accepted by an aircrew serving with the 2457th Aviabaza Boevogo Primeneniya Samolotov Dalnego Radiolokatsionnogo Obnaruzheniya (Aviation Base for Combat Operation of Airborne Early Warning Aircraft) at Ivanovo Severny, which is the only base using the A-50 operationally. The 2457th operates 16 aircraft. A second aircraft, '33 Red' is being upgraded and is due for delivery in 2012. These are the only two production upgrades ordered to date (January 2012), but Beriev anticipates further orders.[7]

Development work on the A-50U began some years ago[specify] and state tests started on September 10, 2008, using a Russian Air Force A-50 '37 Red' as a prototype. The main element of the modernisation involves replacing the outdated analogue equipment with a new, digital avionics suite supplied by Vega Radio Engineering Corporation JSC. Notable improvements include faster data processing, enhanced signal tracking, and improved target detection. Crew rest, toilet and galley facilities are also included in the upgrade.[7]

These upgrades form the basis of the concept for Beriev A-100 AEW&C. Configuration will be similar to the A-50U, but with a new Vega Premier active electronically scanned array radar.[7]

In late December 2015, the A-50 started operations over Syria, flying from Russia, in support of the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War.[8]


  • A-50M – Modernized Russian Version fitted with midair refueling capability.[9]
  • A-50U – updated variant of the A-50M with new modern electronics[10]
  • Izdeliye-676[11] – One-off stop-gap telemetry and tracking aircraft.
  • Izdeliye-776[11] – One-off stop-gap telemetry and tracking aircraft.
  • Izdeliye-976 (SKIP)[11] – (СКИП – Самолетный Контрольно-Измерительный Пункт, Airborne Check-Measure-and-Control Center) – Il-76 based Range Control and Missile tracking platform. Initially built to support Raduga Kh-55 cruise missile tests. Has fixed radar cover filled with other equipment and glassed navigator cockpit, (one prototype and five production conversions).
  • Izdeliye-1076[11] – One-off special mission aircraft with unknown duties.
  • A-50I – variant with Israeli radar, designed for China but project cancelled under pressure of United States[citation needed]
  • A-50E/I – With Aviadvigatel PS-90 A-76 engines, with Israeli EL/W-2090 radar made for the Indian Air Force [12]


 Soviet Union

Specifications (A-50)[edit]

Orthographically projected diagram of the Beriev A-50.

General characteristics


See also[edit]

Related development:

Comparable aircraft:


  1. ^ The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal, David E. Hoffman, location 2330, Kindle edition.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Image: A50b.jpg, (1024 × 768 px)". Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  4. ^ "Image: A50.jpg, (1024 × 768 px)". Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "key.Aero, Military Aviation". Archived from the original on 2012-06-11. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  7. ^ a b c "Beriev delivers first upgraded A-50U Mainstay". Air Forces Monthly (286): 28. January 2012.
  8. ^ Ripley, Tim (13 January 2016). "Russia operates 'Mainstay' AEW&Cs over Syria". Jane's Defence Weekly. Surrey, UK: Jane's Information Group. 53 (10). ISSN 0265-3818.
  9. ^ Sputnik. "Russia modernizes fleet of A-50M AWACS planes". Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  10. ^ "Photos: Beriev A-50U Aircraft Pictures | | Photo of prototype A-50U (37 RED) on which the state joint tests of the modernised complex were conducted". Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  11. ^ a b c d [Gordon, Yefim, OKB Ilyushin, 2004, London]
  12. ^ "Take-off Magazine : Beriev delivered third A-50EI". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  13. ^ "AVIA RU Network: Новости". Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  14. ^
  15. ^ [1]

External links[edit]