Russia has begun preliminary flight trials of its A-100 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft based on the upgraded Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A (Il-476) airframe, it was announced on 9 February.
The milestone, which was announced by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD), comes about 15 months after the prototype's maiden flight in late 2017. It is the final prerequisite before the beginning of a comprehensive flight trials programme of the modernised AEW&C platform.
The A-100 (named Premier by the MoD) is based on an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and an upgraded Il-76MD-90A airframe.
Few details pertaining to the A-100 have been released, but Jane's has previously reported that this new AESA will probably be the JSC REC 'Vega' Premier radar that is scanned mechanically in azimuth and electronically in elevation. State media said that this radar can detect airborne targets out to 600 km and ships out to 400 km. This radar will provide a dramatic improvement over the mechanically scanned radar-equipped A-50 'Mainstay' that the A-100 is intended to replace, as well as making for a more reliable and easier to maintain solution.
The move to the Il-76MD-90A airframe will bestow advantages from the new avionics (reduced crew workload) and improved fuel efficiency (cheaper to operate, and with increased time on station). The A-100 will also feature a digital 'glass' cockpit, as well as other modern systems that come with the baseline Il-76MD-90A airframe.
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