The Beriev A-60 was a prot
otype laser laboratory of the Soviet Union as a counterpart of the U.S Air Force Airborne Laser Laboratory.
The Beriev A-60 was to be a laser cannon installed in a Ilyushin Il-76 Candid, the A-60s of the Soviet Air Force used a dummy ball instead of the laser cannon, as the Soviet/Russian laser programs had problems to fit in a rotary cannon. Other thing that should be noted is the Beriev A-60 had a design similar to the Boeing YAL-1, aircraft made decades later.
Initiated by the Soviets as a parallel program to the US Air Force Airborne Laser Laboratory, the Almaz/Beriev A-60 program aimed to demonstrate an airborne HEL DEW capability, and provide baseline data for the development of an operational weapon. The A-60 was therefore a research testbed, even if an operational capability were to be later based on this design. Two demonstrators were built, the first flying in 1981, the second in 1991. Much of what is available from Russian open sources does not detail actual progress or achievements in this program.
Observable design modifications to the Il-76MD Candid host airframe include:#Nose mounted fairing for the instal
lation of a steerable beam director turret (curiously a similar arrangement to the much later Boeing YAL-1A design).
- Removal of aft clamshell doors, replacement shell with a large axial exhaust aperture.
- Enlarged main undercarriage sponsons with inlets and exhausts for an undisclosed system (likely laser and systems cooling).
- Removal of the tail gunner station.
All open source imagery shows a dummy optical beam director turret installation in the nose. Claims by Russian authors that the beam director was to be deployed from a dorsal hatch are impossible to reconcile with the unique ball turret shaping characteristic of a rotating and tilting beam director. Subject to basic design of the turret, this arrangement would provide at least hemispherical solid angle coverage, and possibly slightly more subject to turret tilt angle relative to the cylindrical fairing shroud. There have been no disclosures on the type of laser intended for the A-60, although given the concurrent effort by Almaz on the CO2 GDL for the ground based mobile point defence weapon, it is reasonable to assume the same design. The large exhaust port in the aft fuselage is consistent with a GDL or chemical laser.The current status of this program is not clear. At the end of the Cold War research funding collapsed for most advanced programs, but it is not known whether this project was mothballed or disbanded. If the Russian Air Force sought an airborne laser weapon then the A-60 project would be a viable starting point.
- Boeing YAL-1
- Airborne Laser Laboratory
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