Tu-214, MS-21 or Yak-44: what should a Russian AWACS aircraft look like?


One of the most unobvious problems of the RF Ministry of Defense for the layman is the acute shortage of AWACS aircraft ("long-range radar detection and control system"), or AWACS, according to the American classification. It seems so simple: he launched a hypersonic missile at the enemy and forgot about him. Alas, everything is much more complicated.


In order for the launched Caliber, Zircon or Dagger to hit a moving target, like the notorious aircraft carrier, you first need to obtain accurate data on its location for target designation. In the Soviet period, we could count on a developed satellite system, but the modern Liana is much weaker and fewer in number than its predecessors, and its vehicles are located in the area of ​​destruction of anti-satellite missiles and other means of countering a potential enemy. In other words, if the United States does go to war with Russia, the first thing they do is neutralize our satellite constellation, "blinding and stunning" the RF Ministry of Defense. And how, then, will you order reconnaissance and receive data for target designation of aviation, army and navy?

This is precisely what AWACS aircraft are needed for, without which a modern-type war is impossible, and our wonderful "Caliber", "Zircon" and "Daggers" simply will not find their target. The US Air Force and its closest allies have AWACS E-3 Sentry aircraft for this, and the Navy has carrier-based E-2 Hawk Eye, which, in combination with carrier-based fighters, make American AUG objectively out of competition. What do we have?

And we are not doing very well with this. According to open sources, only 9 units of old Soviet AWACS A-50 aircraft, made on the basis of the Il-76, remained in operation in the country. The planes are old and outdated in terms of equipment. Of these, only 4 have undergone a deep modernization to the level of A-50U, which still falls short of Western competitors in terms of tactical and technical characteristics. A carrier-based AWACS aircraft does not exist as a class at all.

All hope is for the A-100 Premier. The aircraft is made on the basis of the Il-76MD-90A with a PS-90A-76 engine, it can stay in the air at a distance of 1 kilometers from the base for up to 6 hours. Thanks to the latest equipment, this flying radar is capable of simultaneously tracking up to 300 targets at a distance of up to 650 kilometers. This makes Premier fully competitive with Western counterparts, in some ways even surpassing them. And this is really great. But there is one problem.

The project is so technically complex that the developers cannot bring it to mind in any way. The A-100 was supposed to enter the troops back in 2016, and now it is the end of 2021, and this has not happened yet. Undoubtedly, in the end, the RF Aerospace Forces will receive the "Premier", but will it be able to become widespread? Great question. Most likely, there will actually be only a few such aircraft, and the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation needs a massive AWACS aircraft. What can become a real "workhorse" that will incorporate the developments on the A-100 project?

UAV?


If you approach the matter from the point of view of mass scale, then you can try to rely on relatively cheap unmanned systems, which have now become very popular. For example, a huge UAV "Helios-RLD" can be used as a platform for installing radar equipment. Such a drone can be produced in large batches, being linked into a single network, "Helios" will create a single radar field over the protected area.


Unfortunately, UAVs cannot become a panacea. Due to their low flight speed, they will not be able to interact, for example, with fighters, while they will be an easy target for enemy aircraft and air defense systems. The low power of the radar equipment does not allow the Helios to be classified as a long-range reconnaissance means. In other words, an AWACS UAV is a niche type of weapon, which should rather be used as a peacetime patrol or as an additional "flying eye" to protect its own positions.

Tu-204/214 or MS-21?


Converting civilian airliners into AWACS aircraft is a normal world practice. So, for example, in China, a completely successful AWACS KJ-200 was created on the basis of the Shaanxi Y-8 aircraft, which in turn is a version of the An-12 military transport. Taking into account the problems with the A-100 project, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in 2019 made it clear that a slightly simpler AWACS aircraft based on the Tu-204/214 liner could become an alternative to the Premier.


The choice can be considered quite successful. This is an excellent medium-range aircraft of Soviet design, about 20 modifications have already been made on its basis. It will be enough to equip the Tu-214 with a multi-position radar with two phased antenna arrays, digital equipment and electronic warfare countermeasures, and it will turn into a real AWACS. At the same time, it is noted that the civilian airliner will be even easier and cheaper to maintain than the Il-76.
There is only one problem: the Tu-214 is produced in very small batches, therefore, for the needs of AWACS, it will be necessary to reserve the liners already used for other needs.

Alternatively, in a couple of years, the RF Ministry of Defense can lay eyes on the newest medium-range airliner MS-21. The problem of dependence on imported composite materials has already been solved, the domestic PD-14 engine has been created. Serial production of the aircraft is promised to begin in 2022. True, a queue has already lined up for the MS-21, but, probably, a dozen airliners would be found for the needs of the RF Ministry of Defense.

Yak-44?


Perhaps this platform will be the most adequate answer for the Russian aviation, army and navy. The Yak-44 was created in the USSR as a carrier-based aircraft for radar patrol, guidance and control (RLDNU / AWACS) and electronic countermeasures. At the time of development, with the equipment of that time, he could simultaneously conduct up to 150 air targets and direct 10 of his fighters to the target. Its cruising speed was 700 km / h, maximum - 740 km / h, and the duration of the patrol was from 3,6 to 6,5 hours. This aircraft could be based simultaneously on land airfields and on aircraft carriers. Even without the catapult, the Yak-44 could take off from the deck of the TAVRK "Admiral Kuznetsov" using a springboard, which makes it absolutely unique in its class AWACS.


By 1993, a full-size model of the aircraft was assembled, and after work on it was frozen due to lack of funding. The revival of this project would be a real breakthrough, since both the Russian army would receive an unpretentious front-line reconnaissance aircraft of a medium range, and the Russian Navy would at the same time acquire the long-awaited and vital deck AWACS for the fleet.
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  • Photos used: Papas Dos / CC BY 2.0, Ministry of Industry and Trade
16 comments
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  1. Tektor Offline Tektor
    Tektor (Tektor) 9 November 2021 15: 19
    0
    The right step in the direction of "Helios-RLD": albeit a slow-moving one for now, but nothing will prevent you from rearranging the equipment to a faster board, such as the Hunter.
  2. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
    Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 9 November 2021 18: 37
    +1
    Again "should" and "be".
    Nothing yet, powerful / large to make dorgos and for a long time, small ones are too low-powered.

    there will be a series of aircraft, at least some - there will be AWACS based on them.
    There will be no planes - there will be no AWACS
  3. dmitri_ovchinmail.ru (DO) 9 November 2021 22: 40
    -1
    Unfortunately, UAVs cannot become a panacea. Due to their low flight speed, they will not be able to interact, for example, with fighters, while they will be an easy target for enemy aircraft and air defense systems. The low power of the radar equipment does not allow the Helios to be classified as a long-range reconnaissance means.

    First, the author substitutes for concepts, enumerating the limitations of a specific Helios UAV, and inadequately assigning these limitations to any UAV as a class of combat aviation. Why is it impossible to modify the "correct", according to the author, AWACS planes into drones?
    Secondly, any AWACS aircraft is a prime and easy target for enemy fighters and air defense. For manned AWACS aircraft, as well as unmanned aircraft, do not fly in supersonic mode, and stealth technology is meaningless for them because of the function they perform, which provides for radar radiation.
    And if so, then to save the lives of the crew, AWACS aircraft should be made unmanned with the same priority, if not higher, as strike aircraft.
  4. Marzhecki Online Marzhecki
    Marzhecki (Sergei) 10 November 2021 05: 00
    0
    Quote: dmitri_ovchinmail.ru
    First, the author substitutes for concepts, enumerating the limitations of a specific Helios UAV, and inadequately assigning these limitations to any UAV as a class of combat aviation. Why is it impossible to modify the "correct", according to the author, AWACS planes into drones?

    Are you going to make a drone out of a Tu-214 or MS-21? And accuse the author of inadequacy? laughing
  5. greenchelman Offline greenchelman
    greenchelman (Grigory Tarasenko) 10 November 2021 11: 29
    -2
    Yes, drones are now slugs. It's right. Now the fastest drone, if I'm not mistaken - our S-70 "Okhotnik" - 920 km / h. But, it is only in one copy so far.
    And, for example, in Australia it is already in full swing, i.e. the sample is flying, the development of a drone is underway - a "bodyguard" of manned fighters. The output is likely to be a full-fledged multifunctional supersonic fighter-drone. But what can we learn from the Australians hz. However, Boeing is there, so something will definitely work out. https://greenchelman-3.livejournal.com/6067809.html

    1. zenion Offline zenion
      zenion (zinovy) 18 December 2021 19: 14
      0
      Any plane without a rideable one is afraid to fly. Suddenly he will do something wrong and they will be thrown on the ground. Such drones, as the Germans now did in World War II, and called them flying bombs. There was so much shouting about the fact that any device made by a man should be controlled by a man. While such devices can be made, only at one plant and it is in America and is called Naked Wood. There they already have such weapons and so on that the pentagon envies, but they are not given the equipment. Their brains are not yet mature enough.
  6. dmitri_ovchinmail.ru (DO) 10 November 2021 13: 37
    0
    Are you going to make a drone out of a Tu-214 or MS-21? And accuse the author of inadequacy?

    On some large passenger aircraft, software and hardware systems for automatic taxiing, takeoff, flight along a fixed route and landing are being tested today for specially equipped airfields. Pilots here, by and large, will only be needed "just in case", and so that passengers have someone to applaud when landing. In your opinion, these systems were developed and implemented by inadequate people?
  7. Pavel57 Offline Pavel57
    Pavel57 (Paul) 10 November 2021 14: 45
    0
    Yak-44 was left without an engine. With a turbojet engine, it will be a different plane.
    1. greenchelman Offline greenchelman
      greenchelman (Grigory Tarasenko) 10 November 2021 17: 36
      -2
      Still ... D-27 is a propfan engine developed by the Zaporozhye Machine-Building Design Bureau "Progress" named after Academician A. G. Ivchenko.
  8. assault 2019 Offline assault 2019
    assault 2019 (assault 2019) 10 November 2021 20: 40
    0
    Perhaps this platform will be the most adequate answer for the Russian aviation, army and navy. Yak-44 was created in the USSR as a carrier-based radar patrol, guidance and control aircraft (RLDNU / AWACS)

    Yak-44 is the most unfortunate decision since the base platform Yak-40/42 has long been discontinued and the Ministry of Aviation Industry has not yet taken any steps to revive this project.
    The presence of the only carrier of Kuznetsov's carrier-based naval aviation is not a reason to start frantically "jerking" along the path of creating a carrier-based AWACS aircraft at any cost, since Kuzya is no longer a young enough ship to be repaired much longer than she spends at sea, and he has only years to serve. 10-15.

    For some reason, the topic of the development of AWACS systems on controlled high-altitude balloons capable of hanging over a given area for months, receiving energy for the operation of equipment from solar panels installed directly on the body of balloons, is hushed up.
    The carrying capacity of the balloons is such that they can easily be equipped with short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles for defense against enemy aircraft and missiles.
    1. Pavel57 Offline Pavel57
      Pavel57 (Paul) 12 November 2021 12: 44
      -1
      The Yak-44 has nothing to do with the Yak-40/42. This is a Hawkeye-type airplane project.
  9. Smirnov Sergey Offline Smirnov Sergey
    Smirnov Sergey (Smirnov Sergey) 7 December 2021 23: 30
    +1
    They all piled up in one heap. Realizing that anti-ship missiles of the Granite type can be left without external guidance, certain intellectual capabilities were laid in them to identify and classify targets, and it would be offensive and unpleasant to learn that Calibers and Zircons did not do this.
    And I will also note that quite different machines are offered as a carrier of radio equipment. The Americans did not abandon the e3 sentry in favor of the e2 hockey, so why should this happen in Russia, when the a50 / 100 is abandoned in favor of the yak-44? There is no problem to make a drloyu airplane on the IL-204, a tnmp production of 1..2 boards per year will be sufficient.
    But the best base for the e3 analog, in my opinion, would be the IL-96. He can lift the equipment, and in the air there is a lot more story, and he has 4 engines, which is more reliable.
    1. zenion Offline zenion
      zenion (zinovy) 18 December 2021 19: 08
      0
      One engine should be in the tail, like a horse has to brush off birds, or something in front that he would sneeze at them, and not try to eat.
  10. zenion Offline zenion
    zenion (zinovy) 18 December 2021 19: 06
    0
    The plane must take off. Should fly and give data. The plane must be able to land. A decent plane must clear its throat before answering, not be sick with a crown and not be afraid of birds of any size. Should not fall like a stone when he wants to, even when the food, that is, the gas station, is over. Soviet planes, when the load is exceeded, when he is forty years old, he wants to retire, and not dive into the seas and do a triple somersault on the ground.
  11. likas Offline likas
    likas (likas tyrlo) 10 January 2022 15: 35
    0
    We need at least a link of AWACS aircraft and 2-3 squadrons of AWACS unmanned aerial vehicles to have all the rights in the sky ...
  12. Panikovsky Offline Panikovsky
    Panikovsky (Mikhail Samuelevich Panikovsky) 20 February 2022 18: 19
    0
    If about the Yak-44, it’s immediately clear, comrade. The Marzhetsky opus blew it. There is no such aircraft and never has been. There was a project, a layout was built. The project closed in 1993. D-27 engines are Ukrainian, not mass-produced. They were custom-made for experimental An-70s, a project that Russia is no longer interested in.