The Russian-built Beriev A-100 "Premier" Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft will complete its flight tests later this year, its manufacturer announced last week. Two test prototypes have been built and the platform is currently on track to enter service in 2024.
"An important stage of the trials of the A-100 - an aircraft platform that integrates the most advanced solutions – has begun," Vladimir Verba, chief designer of the Vega Group, which is part of the state tech corporation Rostec, said in a statement, according to Russian state-backed news enterprise TASS. "Scientists and engineers have confirmed that the Russian technologies of creating radar surveillance and control aircraft are at the world level. Throughout 2022, we are planning to complete the cycle of preliminary flight trials and hand over the aircraft platform for state joint trials."
A Premier Airborne System
The A-100 aircraft is based on the Il-76MD-90A military transport. It includes a unique antenna system and state-of-the-art radio-technical equipment developed by the Vega Group within Ruselectronics Holding. Development of the A-100 began in 2006 to eventually replace the Cold War-era A-50 Mainstay, which remains in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS).
Much like the U.S. Air Force’s AEW&C aircraft, the A-100 is capable of detecting and tracking aerial and other targets, and participating in command and control of fighter and attack aircraft by directing them towards aerial, ground, and naval targets. It is equipped with a plethora of advanced components and systems, including high-performance computers, as well as the latest domestic radio-electronics achievements, data receiving and processing equipment, and operator automated workstations.
It is purportedly three times more efficient than its predecessor as it is also fitted with modern navigation and avionics, new propulsion systems, and an advanced fuel system.
Switched-on Radio Tested
According to Rostec, the A-100 surveillance aircraft has already successfully completed its debut flight with switched-on radio-technical equipment.
"Specialists of the Vega Group within the Ruselectronics Holding and the Beriev Aircraft Company integrated into the United Aircraft Corporation – both are parts of the Rostec state corporation – conducted the first flight of the A-100 long-range radar surveillance and control platform with its onboard radio-technical system switched on. The tests confirmed the normal operation of special equipment and the aircraft’s onboard systems under high electromagnetic radiation," the press office stated.
During the test flight, specialists successfully checked the aircraft's aerodynamic properties and the performance of avionics and some special devices of the onboard radio-technical equipment. All the systems operated in compliance with the designated parameters and are ready for further tests.
"The flight proceeded in the normal mode. All the systems and equipment operated smoothly," explained Sergey Parkhayev, Beriev Aircraft Company test pilot. "The crew accomplished the flight assignment in full, checking the aircraft's stable and controlled operation in the designated modes of piloting and the performance of the equipment mounted on the airplane. The Il-76MD-90A platform confirmed its designed characteristics."
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.