Air "Hold"

    In connection with the article on “Daryal” , it’s simply impossible not to mention another station of the radar patrol, but already air-based, the so-called "Hold" - the project A-50.

    At one time, the project was at the forefront of the development of airborne radar and systems, and by some technical characteristics the complex even now surpasses foreign analogues, in particular the famous American AWACS .

    A bit of history

    By the beginning of the 70s, the Tu-126 radar patrol and guidance aircraft ( RLDN ), armed with the air defense forces, with the Liana radar system did not meet modern requirements and was significantly inferior to the latest American E-3A AWACS in its characteristics. By this time, anti-aircraft missile systems literally “pressed” the strike aircraft to the ground, where the “Liana” was powerless. A new complex was required, capable of tracking aerial targets at extremely low altitudes against the background of the earth.

    In 1969, a government decision was made to begin the development of a radio engineering complex (RTK), which was supposed to detect and track high-speed, inconspicuous air targets flying near the ground. Its creation was taken up by the Moscow Research Institute of Instrument Engineering (the head institute of the NGO Vega-M). In addition, one of the requirements of the customer was the use as a carrier of the new complex of one of the serial heavy aircraft. For this reason, the Tupolev Design Bureau Tu-156 project was rejected, with the general layout close to the American E-ZA. It was decided to make the new RLDN aircraft based on the IL-76.

    Although in terms of flight characteristics such a machine was inferior to the variant with a carrier based on a passenger aircraft, the use of a proven and reliable serial IL-76 significantly reduced the cost of the program for the creation of an RLDN aviation complex and, moreover, simplified the logistics issues during the subsequent operation of serial machines in combat units. By a resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR of 1973, the creation of the A-50 RLDN aircraft was prescribed by the Design Bureau under the leadership of A.K. Konstantinov.

    First flight

    When creating the RLDN aircraft , a large amount of work was done to debug and refine the radio complex. At the same time, in the experimental production of the Design Bureau in Taganrog, in a tense and not always rhythmic mode, the serial IL-76 was converted to the first experimental A-50, which ended in 1978 with the transfer of the aircraft for testing.

    The first flight of the A-50 took place on December 19, 1978, still without an RTK on board (commander - test pilot V.P. Demyanovsky). Later, the aircraft was equipped with a full-time RTK, and from August 16, 1979, joint state tests began. Since only a small part of the electronic equipment was tested at the flying laboratory, the A-50 in the first test period actually became a stand for ground testing of the radio engineering complex, whose reliability at first left much to be desired.


    The aircraft is made according to the normal aerodynamic scheme with a highly located swept wing and a T-shaped swept plumage. The aircraft is equipped with an in-flight refueling system using the hose-cone method.

    Above the fuselage on the support there is a radome antenna of the onboard radar with a diameter of 10.2 m and a height of 2 m. The support is equipped with an anti-icing system. The avionics avionics of the aircraft ensures the performance of combat missions with organized interference and opposition of the enemy ... According to the chief designer of the Bumblebee complex V.P. Ivanov, inferior to the American E-3 "Sentry" in the detection range of targets and the number of automated guidance channels, the A-50 exceeds it according to the level of target allocation against the background of interfering reflections from the earth's surface. The equipment installed on the A-50 is about one and a half times heavier than American equipment of a similar purpose.

    There is a self-defense complex that provides protection against enemy fighters in the front and rear hemispheres, including active and passive electronic countermeasures (and radar reflectors and mounted batteries with false thermal targets - such an aircraft was first shown on August 11-16, 1992 at the Moseroshow-92) .

    Wing span, m50.50
    Aircraft length, m46.59
    Aircraft height, m14.80
    The maximum diameter of the fuselage, m4.80
    Wing area, m2300.0
    empty plane
    normal takeoff190000
    engine's type4 turbojet engine PS-90A
    Thrust, kgf4 x 16000
    Max. cruising speed, km / h800
    Practical range, km7500
    Practical ceiling, m12000
    Crew5 + 10 RTK

    Tracking complex

    The main "weapon" of our A-50 is a powerful radio-technical complex " Bumblebee". The total mass of the radio complex is 20 tons. A radar station operating in the centimeter range is capable of detecting a fighter class target flying at low altitude against the background of the earth at a distance of 200-400 km, at high altitude - 300-600 km. Sea targets found at a distance of up to 400 km. The number of simultaneously tracked targets is 50-60 (up to 150 targets on an advanced version), the number of simultaneously guided fighters is 10-12. To detect the launch of tactical and operational tactical ballistic missiles, as well as missiles Skog upgraded based on aircraft can be mounted infrared system rocket engine plume detection capable at 10 000 m o6naruzhit torch launch the missile at a distance of 1000 km.


    The digital computer complex was built using BTsVMA-50 (Research Institute "Argon") with the architecture of the EU computer. The digital computer will output the processed information to the screen of indicators in alphanumeric and planned forms. It also displays data on fighters interacting with AKRDN - numbers, course, altitude, speed, fuel remaining.

    Interaction with interceptors is carried out via fixed automated guidance channels. The operational radio range for the KB channel is 2000 km, and for the VHF channel and for the broadband radio line is 400 km. There is a satellite radio link providing global communications. The aircraft is equipped with a flight and navigation system designed to solve the problems of aircraft support in any meteorological conditions, at any geographical latitude, at any time of the day, as well as for the issuance of flight and navigation information in special complexes.

    So, the A-50 aircraft complex can:
    • detect and track aerial targets
    • identify their nationality
    • control air traffic and aiming at a target
    • transmit radar data in the field of view to other air defense participants
    • receive commands from the control center
    • act as a command post
    • identify radiation sources and bearings on them

    Combat duty

    In December 1984, according to the test results, it was decided to build a serial A-50 at the Tashkent Aviation Plant. In 1985, the pilot operation of aircraft in combat units began, which lasted until 1988.
    In the West, the new Soviet aircraft RLDN was given the code name " Mainstay " - abutment, stronghold. For the first time “probable opponents” saw him near December 4, 1987, when the Norwegian anti-submarine R-3B Orion from the 333rd squadron discovered the A-50 over the neutral waters of the Barents Sea.

    The complex was officially adopted by the Russian Federation in 1989. For its creation, by a decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated January 16, 1996, a group of leading specialists in the aviation and radio-technical industries, as well as the Air Force, was awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation in the field of science and technology. Among the laureates, the creators of the A-50: A.K. Konstantinov, G.S. Panatov and S.A. Atayants.

    Until 1990, the A-50 aircraft carried out routine service, from time to time participating in major exercises, both of the USSR Armed Forces and joint Warsaw Pact organizations with the armies of the countries. In the winter of 1991, during the fighting in the Persian Gulf, the A-50 pair patrolled over the waters of the Black Sea, monitored the anti-Iraq coalition combat aircraft, which attacked Iraq from Turkey. Then the regiment had to leave the settled base, which suddenly found itself in "sovereign" Lithuania and fly to the northern Russian airfield of Pechora. Now all Russian A-50s are part of the air base for the combat use of RLDN aircraft, based on the Ivanovo airfield.

    The A-50 got to its first “real" war only at the end of 1994, however, when it was created, no one could dream in a nightmare that this would happen on their own land, in Chechnya. Three A-50 aircraft were flown to the Volga operational airfield. After the Russian air defense regained full control over Chechnya's airspace on December 21, 1994, after almost a three-year hiatus, the A-50 aircraft, which were constantly in the air, created a continuous radar field over the combat zone. The joint patrol of the A-50 and the Su-27 and MiG-31 interceptors did not allow the Chechen separatists to organize an “air bridge” with foreign countries. A-50 aircraft performed similar tasks during the anti-terrorist operation in the winter of 1999-2000.

    Present and future

    In 1988, one A-50 was converted into an A-50E for possible sale for export. In this version, it was demonstrated in 1988, in Kubinka, to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of India Admiral Nadkarni.

    One of the serial aircraft in 1997-1999. was converted to TANTK them. G.M.Beriev in the AI ​​version for the installation of the Israeli electronic complex.

    In April 2000, one A-50 was taken by the Indian Air Force on a short-term lease from the Russian Air Force. In total, ten flights were performed, each lasting up to 6 hours. The Russian crew piloted the car from the air base of the combat use of the RLDN aircraft, which owned the car, but Indian specialists also took part in the flights. The A-50 was based at the airport of Chandihang (Punjab state).

    Currently, the relevance of the further development of RLDN aviation systems has increased even more, and the A-50 is the only aircraft of this class in the Russian Air Force. RLDN airplanes are indispensable participants in all ongoing air tactical exercises of the Russian Air Force. A-50E option is created for export deliveries.

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