Russia's Aerospace Forces (VKS) is planning to develop a new airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft based on the Tupolev Tu-214 regional jet, Izvestia reported on 5 May. The newspaper's sources in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) indicated that the VKS command has already approved the project.
The new long-range radar surveillance aircraft will reportedly be less costly, lighter, and cheaper to operate than the A-100 currently in development. It will employ a lighter version of the A-100's radar as well as some of its onboard systems and equipment.
The A-100 is an updated version of Russia's A-50 'flying radar' introduced in the early 1980s. The A-100 is built on the upgraded Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A airframe. It carries the Premier radar, designed by JSC REC 'Vega', which can detect airborne targets at 600 km and ships at 400 km, according to Russian media.
The A-100 aircraft is in trials at the Chkalov State Flight Test Centre in Akhtubinsk. Moscow is also modernising its inventory of about 20 A-50 AEW&C aircraft. The VKS received its sixth upgraded A-50U in late March.
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