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Radiolocation Reconnaissance Aircraft

A - 50

NATO Codename "Mainstay"

Crew 5 - 10
Entered service in 1984
Dimensions and weight 
Length 47 m
Wing span 50 m
Height  15 m
Weight (normal) 190 t
Engines
Engines 4 x D-32KP-2
Traction 4 x 12 000 kg
Altitude 13 km
Maximum speed 810 km/h
Flying range 7 500 km
   In the year 1965 a group of Soviet constructors began to develop new aviation long range radiolocation reconnaissance complex. It was intended to change the same destination aircraft TU-126 which had significantly lower characteristics than it's US Air Force opposite E-3 "AWACS".

   At the beginning of 80-ties at scientific-production association "Vega-M" was developed radio technical  complex "Shmel". The main creation problem was lag in electronic production level. Consequently developers had to create special fast working computer almost on their own. Notwithstanding on objective difficulties they created complex with uncial abilities. It has shorter target notifying range and lower number of partly automatic targeting channels than E-3 "AWACS" but surpass "AWACS" in notifying targets on terrain's background. It allows to effectively notice low flying targets with low wing square (radar visibility), cruise missiles and "stealth" aircrafts. "Shmel" is able to retransmit information using artificial Earth satellites in almost unlimited range. E-3 has no such ability.

   A-50 is able to track 60 and guide 12 targets in 220 km range. Data can be transferred to friendly aircrafts or command points in 400 km range using radiostation.

   As a base for long-range radiolocation reconnaissance aircraft there was chosen well recommended transport aircraft IL-76MD. Aircraft was given name A-50 and since 1984 was supplied to Anti-aircraft Defense Forces of USSR.

   A-50 is all-metal monoplane with highly placed wing and engines, placed on underwing pylons. Refueling barbell was fixed in the nose part. 9 m wide board radiolocation station is placed on dynamic bearings on aircraft's fuselage. Fuel is placed in wing mounted fuel tanks.

   Aircraft has infrared trap and dipole mirrors ejection system to defend from fighters and anti-aircraft defense. A-50 fitted with "Shmel" radio technical complex has three plane radiolocation station, friend - enemy and dependence to country notifying equipment, digital communication system with ground and ship stations and with cooperating aircrafts as well. Target information providing by A-50 is used by tactical crews to target attack and fighter aircrafts. This data also goes to automatic armed force control command points. When aircraft works in a long range from command points it use satellites to transfer data. Furthermore A-50 is providing information to surfaced submarines. "Akula" class ballistic missile submarines (NATO codename "Typhoon") are able to receive information under water using satellite transferring.  

    Board radio technical complex "Shmel" computer shows information on screens in alphabetical-digital and panoramic views. Aircraft's can be directed by automatic data link or oraly.


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