Military Wiki
A-50 Shmel
Role Airborne early warning and control
Manufacturer Beriev
First flight 19 December 1978
Introduction 1984
Status In service
Primary users Russian Air Force
Indian Air Force
Number built around 40
Developed from Ilyushin Il-76

The Beriev A-50 (NATO reporting name "Mainstay") is a Soviet-built airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport. Developed to replace the Tupolev Tu-126 "Moss", the A-50 first flew in 1978. It entered service in 1984, with about 40 produced by 1992.


Indian Air Force Beriev A-50EI Mainstay


The mission personnel of the 15-man crew derive data from the large Liana surveillance radar with its antenna in an over-fuselage rotordome, which has a diameter of 29 ft 9 in (9.00 m).[citation needed]

The A-50 can control up to 10 fighter aircraft for either air-to-air intercept or air-to-ground attack missions. The A-50 is capable of flying for 4 hours at 1000 km from its base at a maximum takeoff weight of 190 tons. The aircraft can be refuelled by Il-78 tankers.[1][2]

The radar "Vega-M" is designed by MNIIP, Moscow, and produced by NPO Vega. The "Vega-M" is capable of tracking up to 50 targets simultaneously within 230 kilometers. Large targets, like surface ships, can be tracked at a distance of 400 km.[citation needed]

After completing State Joint Tests, Beriev has delivered the first upgraded Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft to the Russian Air Force. The aircraft, '47 Red'/RF-92957 was handed over at Beriev's facility in Taganrog on October 31, 2011.[3] It was accepted by an air crew serving with the 2457th Aviabaza Boevogo Primeneniya Samolotov Dalnego Radiolokatsionnogo Obnaruzheniya (Aviation Base for Combat Operation of Airborne Early Warning Aircraft) at Ivanovo Severny, which is the only base using the A-50 operationally. The 2457th operates 16 aircraft. A second aircraft, '33 Red' is getting upgraded and is due for delivery in 2012. These are the only two production upgrades ordered to date (January 2012), but Beriev anticipates further orders.[4] Development work on the A-50U commenced some years ago[specify] and State Tests started on September 10, 2008, using Russian Air Force A-50 '37 Red' as a prototype. The main element of the modernisation involves replacing the outdated analogue equipment with a new, digital avionics suite supplied by Russia's Vega Radio Engineering Corporation JSC. Notable improvements include: faster data processing, enhanced signal tracking and improved target detection. Crew rest, toilet and galley facilities are also included in the upgrade.[4]

These upgrades form the basis of the concept for a new production aircraft, based on the Il-476 airframe (new built Il-76MD with PS-90A76 engines). Configuration will be similar to the A-50U, but with a new Vega Premier active phased array radar.[4]


  • A-50M – Modernized Russian Version fitted with mid-air refueling capability.[5]
  • A-50U – updated Russian variant[6]
  • Izdeliye-676[7] – One-off stop-gap telemetry and tracking aircraft.
  • Izdeliye-776[7] – One-off stop-gap telemetry and tracking aircraft.
  • Izdeliye-976 (SKIP)[7] – (СКИП – Самолетный Контрольно-Измерительный Пункт, Airborne Check-Measure-and-Control Center) – Il-76 based Range Control and Missile tracking platform. Initially built to support Raduga Kh-55 cruise missile tests.Has fixed radar cover filled with other equipment and glassed navigator cockpit, (One prototype and five production conversions).
  • Izdeliye-1076[7] – One-off special mission aircraft with unknown duties.
  • A-50I – variant with an Israeli radar, designed for China but project cancelled under pressure of United States[citation needed]
  • A-50E/I – With Aviadvigatel PS-90A-76 engines, with Israeli EL/W-2090 radar made for the Indian Air Force [8]
  • KJ-2000 – Chinese variant with a domestic radar based on the A-50I airframe


Indian Air Force Beriev A-50EI Mainstay

 Soviet Union

Specifications (A-50)

Orthographically projected diagram of the Beriev A-50.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 15
  • Length: 49.59m (152 ft 8 in)
  • Wingspan: 50.50 m (165 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 14.76 m (48 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 300 m² (3,228 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 75,000 kg (165,347 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 170,000 kg (374,786 lb)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Aviadvigatel PS-90A turbofan, 157 kN (35,200 lbf) each


  • Maximum speed: 900 km/h (559 mph)
  • Range: 6,400 km (3,977 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,371 ft)

See also

Related development: Ilyushin Il-76, KJ-2000

Comparable aircraft: E-3 Sentry


External links

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