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 ~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 metres (30 ft).[citation needed] Detection range is 650 kilometres (400 mi) for air targets and 300 kilometres (190 mi) 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 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from its base at a maximum takeoff weight of 190 metric tons (420,000 lb). 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 kilometres (140 mi). Large targets, like surface ships, can be tracked at a distance of 400 kilometres (250 mi).[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] In December 2018, it was deployed to Crimea.[9]


  • A-50M – Modernized Russian Version fitted with midair refueling capability.[10]
  • A-50U – updated variant of the A-50M with new modern electronics and increased crew comfort level [11][12]
  • Izdeliye-676[13] – One-off stop-gap telemetry and tracking aircraft.
  • Izdeliye-776[13] – One-off stop-gap telemetry and tracking aircraft.
  • Izdeliye-976 (SKIP)[13] – (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[13] – 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 [14]


 Soviet Union

Specifications (A-50)[edit]

Orthographically projected diagram of the Beriev A-50.

General characteristics


See also[edit]

Related development:

Comparable aircraft:


  • Yefim Gordon, Dmitriy Kommisarov: Flight Craft 6: Il'yushin/Beriyev A-50. Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2015, ISBN 978-1-4738-2391-4
  • Yefim Gordon, Dmitriy Komissarov, Sergey Komissarov: OBB Ilyushin: A History of the Design Bureau and Its Aircraft ISBN 978-1-8578-0187-3


  1. ^ The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal, David E. Hoffman, location 2330, Kindle edition.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-03-12. Retrieved 2017-03-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Image: A50b.jpg, (1024 × 768 px)". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  4. ^ "Image: A50.jpg, (1024 × 768 px)". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-03-31. Retrieved 2017-03-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  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. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-12-13. Retrieved 2018-12-13.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Sputnik. "Russia modernizes fleet of A-50M AWACS planes". Archived from the original on 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-01-01. Retrieved 2019-01-01.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ a b c d [Gordon, Yefim, OKB Ilyushin, 2004, London]
  14. ^ "Take-off Magazine : Beriev delivered third A-50EI". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-12. Retrieved 2010-04-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "AVIA RU Network: Новости". Archived from the original on 2012-05-29. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-03-30. Retrieved 2019-03-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]