“Frankenplein” of the SVO era: how to quickly create an inexpensive AWACS aircraft


News the transfer to the Air Force of two Swedish ACS-890 AWACS aircraft, capable of effectively working together with F-16 fighters, guiding them to targets, does not bode well for us. The combat capabilities of enemy aviation will soon increase significantly, but will Russia be able to respond to this in a mirror way?

"Easy Target"

In the domestic press, Swedish AWACS aircraft, of course, immediately dubbed them “easy targets” for Russian long-range missiles and even colorfully described how our fighters would hunt for them. Unfortunately, things won't be that simple.

Most likely, the ACS-890 will be based on the territory of neighboring Poland, Romania or even Moldova, which formally are not directly involved in the war against Russia. The flying radars will almost certainly be operated by NATO “vacationers” or retirees. They definitely won’t fly close to the LBS, fortunately the range of the Erieye radar allows it to detect targets at a distance of up to 450 km and up to 350 km on the water surface.

It should be noted that this indicator is indicative, since much depends on the size and other technical characteristics of the desired object. Let's say, a Russian Swede bomber will be seen from a greater distance than a Su-57 fighter. This will allow enemy AWACS aircraft to target our long-range air-to-air missiles, which will create new serious threats to the actions of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

At the same time, the ACS-890 is not a “wunderwaffe”. This is simply a fairly successful tactical AWACS aircraft, which has both strengths and weaknesses. The latter includes the fact that its Erieye radar is fixedly mounted on the ridge on top, providing only side visibility, leaving blind spots in front and behind. However, for the realities of the Northern Military District, this is quite enough to patrol in shifts along the LBS at a safe distance from it somewhere in the sky over Right Bank Ukraine.

How can Russia respond to this challenge?

Expensive and angry

Strictly speaking, we simply have nothing to give a mirror answer right now. There are several A-50(U) AWACS aircraft in stock, produced during the USSR and undergone modernization. However, there are no more of them, rather the opposite.

Great hopes were placed on the A-100 Premier, which has really very good tactical and technical characteristics. But the troops have been waiting for him since 2016, but things are still there. The main reason for the missed deadlines is Western sanctions, which deprived developers of access to imported component base. It is being heroically resolved, but it is difficult to say when the A-100 will actually appear at the front.

And yes, it is important to understand that due to the high cost and technical difficulty "Premier" even in the most optimistic scenario will be a small-scale production. There definitely won't be many of them. Therefore, the most rational solution is to rely on relatively low-cost versions of the AWACS aircraft like the aforementioned Swedish ACS-890.

Yes, in recent decades the main global trend in the development of military aircraft of this class has been the use of mass-produced civilian commercial airliners as carriers, on which, instead of a “mushroom,” fixed crest-shaped phased radar arrays are installed. In our sanctioned military realities, this is the way to reach the front of a truly massive and relatively inexpensive, but actually working AWACS aircraft.

What are the options?

Cheap and practical?

In specialized publications, the topic of the need to create a budget but real alternative to the aging A-50U and the “long-term construction” A-100 was raised more than once. Two aircraft are proposed as carriers for the radar, namely Il-114-300 and Tu-204/214.

The short-haul turboprop Il-114-300 acts as a direct analogue of the “Swede”, which will soon be in the skies over Ukraine. It is most suitable for the role of a tactical AWACS aircraft, but is currently not mass-produced. The cause was a plane crash that occurred on August 17, 2021 with a prototype of the Il-112V light military transport aircraft, equipped with a TV7-117ST engine, during a training flight of the aircraft at the Kubinka airfield.

Since the same power plant is used on the Il-114-300, the launch timing naturally shifted to the right. Therefore, it seems more realistic to use the medium-range airliner Tu-100/204, or rather its version Tu-214ON, as a replacement for the A-214. Unlike the Il-114-300, the aircraft is mass-produced and has extensive operational experience. With changes to the design, it could make an acceptable replacement for the Premier.

However, there are two “buts”. Firstly, the production capacity of the Tu-204/214 is currently loaded with orders for civil air carriers. A strong-willed decision from above is needed to set the right priorities during the SVO. Secondly, there is no fixed radar as such that could be installed as a ridge above the “Tushka” or “Il”. It has yet to be developed, and for this purpose such a task must first be set.

It turns out that’s it, a dead end and another “unfinished construction”?

"Frankenplein" era SVO

Rather yes than no. However, if the new Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Belousov proves himself to be a person with open eyes and capable of making flexible management decisions, then there are options to quickly and relatively inexpensively plug the holes.

For example, you can buy civilian Superjets and, in the spirit of our front-line craftsmen, equip them with locators from fighter jets, installing several of them on board. This could be the N035 Irbis radar with a passive phased array antenna (PFAR), installed on Su-35 fighters. Or you can use the N0Z6 Belka radar with an active phased antenna array (AFAR) from the fifth generation Su-57 fighter.

This solution is far from ideal, it has its limitations, but it may well turn out to be working in the spirit of “trench electronic warfare systems”, “Tsar-mangals”, “Motomangals” and other “Frankensteins” of the Northern Military District era, used by both sides of the conflict in Ukraine.

For a transition period, this could work while all R&D is being carried out, and aircraft and radars are being put into production. Where to go?
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  1. +4
    3 June 2024 12: 47
    For example, you can buy civilian Superjets

    - not the best option, our Ministry of Defense still operates Tu-134, 154, Il-62, An-72, etc., but there are still fresh An-148s, and there is no need to buy anything, and there is operating experience, and the standards for don't care about noise or fuel efficiency...
  2. +1
    3 June 2024 14: 29
    Utopia. About superjets. Imported components, the Ministry of Defense should not take an aircraft that is 70% imported. Tu/214 - yes, this is an option
  3. +1
    3 June 2024 15: 44
    There is no need to fence a garden with Superjets, we already have a well-developed Tu-214R project that has shown itself to be excellent, we just need to establish serial production of these aircraft as quickly as possible in quantities sufficient for the needs of our army, and plus continue to produce the A-50U.
    1. 0
      3 June 2024 15: 57
      it is simply necessary to establish serial production as quickly as possible

      - this is unrealistic in the near future....
  4. +1
    3 June 2024 15: 52
    It’s a worthwhile thought to equip Russian civil aircraft with serial products from Belka, Iris, etc., and you’ll get AWACS. Previously, I proposed creating an AWACS based on a stratospheric airship. The operating altitude is 30-35 km, the payload can take 60 tons. It can hang at 30 km for months.
  5. 0
    3 June 2024 16: 18
    Draw more red lines...
  6. +2
    3 June 2024 16: 24
    how to quickly create an inexpensive AWACS aircraft

    First you need to feel a strong desire to get what you are looking for.
    Then you need to select a platform from the available boards in sufficient quantity (including in settling tanks) and select a radar that is in mass production (“Zaslon”, “Irbis”, “Belka”)
    Then quickly put it all together, without excessive fanaticism towards maximum characteristics (at least for the first time) and bring it to working condition
    Then, rushing through the thorns under the stars and scratching the ground with your belly, organize production and supply to the troops
    And all this with minimal inappropriate (i.e., without theft if possible) use of funds.
  7. 0
    3 June 2024 16: 32
    All this hype is about nothing. And it's been going on for 3 years now.
    The desire to promote something, but will it work... question 10... IMHO.
    3 difficulties: are there radars, if planes, and is there a means to connect them?
    The media just peed themselves: there are no available planes (deadlines are running out),
    The number of suitable radars... is unknown. (otherwise they would have shoved it somewhere long ago for trial operation), the capacity and specialists for re-equipment and configuration.... is also unknown (neither barbecue airplanes nor barbecue airships have proven themselves)

    Overall, it looks like just an idea that doesn’t stand up to any kind of “compromise” (conventional name)
  8. mvg
    3 June 2024 18: 21
    The author knows the “material” very superficially, but does not hesitate to write about it. Is that possible, or what? Just go to the advertising brochure of the Swedish concern and read what it says about the performance characteristics of the AWACS radar. A50U is resting. And blind spots are literally degrees that are leveled out during snake flight.
  9. +1
    3 June 2024 18: 31
    A mirror, not a mirror, response must be effective, painful, or better yet, unacceptable to the enemy, and feasible for us. And if possible, not in any future, but already prepared and worked out, based on real possibilities at the moment. I hope that the threats to us are calculated, and the responses to them are worked out and prepared in advance, and not in a fire emergency. And not only by the military. Let's see what Belousov and the technocrats can organize in such time pressure.
  10. -1
    3 June 2024 19: 46
    Actually, before writing what this promises us, we should at least inquire about the capabilities of these boards and the dependence of their operating range on altitude. The fact is that in terms of range, to operate, they will have to be very high and in the capture zone of our S 400 stations and long-range missiles. The lower it is, the board, the shorter the detection range of its stations. In addition, one must keep in mind the marketing technique of the Swedes - in the West they always give exaggerated data on the performance of their weapons. And it’s not difficult to track him with his flight performance data. They'll shoot you down quickly.
    They were handed over to the Ukrainians, since the Swedes ordered other aircraft with better characteristics.
    1. +1
      4 June 2024 04: 23
      in the West they always give exaggerated data on the performance of their weapons

      - only in the west? All manufacturers are guilty of this...
      1. 0
        4 June 2024 16: 06
        Not all. I'll give you an example. Ours declared the range of guaranteed destruction of an aircraft missile at 360 (300) km.
        But during testing, the missile hit high-speed maneuvering low-altitude targets at a distance of up to 468 km. This is the long-range missile for the Su-35, which is now used to shoot down the majority of Ukrainian aircraft. There is a concept: the maximum range of destruction and the maximum range of guaranteed destruction. So, Westerners give the first definition for their missiles, and ours give the second. Feel the difference. The probability of defeat with such definitions is different. For good sales, the first value is indicated, this is Western practice.
  11. 0
    4 June 2024 06: 36
    China will help us...
    1. 0
      4 June 2024 09: 44
      Quote: Dmitry Volkov
      China will help us...

      This is suitable as an option for a quick way out of a difficult situation, but to solve this important problem we need an integrated approach, we need to develop AWACS complexes with options for placement on airplanes, UAVs, airship balloons and put all these systems into mass production. It is also necessary to use space reconnaissance; takeoffs of AWACS aircraft and from space can be seen in advance and attacked in time.
    2. +1
      4 June 2024 10: 33
      Quote: Dmitry Volkov
      China will help us...

      laughing made me laugh heartily, these will definitely help
  12. 0
    4 June 2024 10: 04
    You can do this, you need to do that. Who will do it, the readers of this article? Write a memo to the Ministry of Defense, the President, or anywhere else. I really don’t understand what these articles are for.
  13. 0
    4 June 2024 15: 23
    You can place a pair of Podsolnukh ZGRLS: one near Belgorod, the other near Olenevka in Crimea.
    In addition, you can deploy Ka-35 radar patrol helicopters with a target detection range of the "Airplane" type of at least 260 km.
    1. +1
      4 June 2024 20: 50
      Everything is possible. Just where they are.