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Beriev A-50

The Beriev A-50 is a Soviet airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport.

Developed to replace the Tupolev Tu-126 “Moss”, the A-50 first flew in 1978.

Its existence was revealed to the Western Bloc in 1980 by Adolf Tolkachev.

It entered service in 1984, with about 40 produced by 1992.

The mission personnel of the 15-man crew derive data from the large Liana surveillance radar with its antenna in an over-fuselage rotodome, which has a diameter of 9 metres (30 ft) 

Detection range is 650 kilometres (400 mi) for air targets and 300 kilometres (190 mi) for ground targets.

The A-50 can control up to ten fighter aircraft for either air-to-air intercept or air-to-ground attack missions.

The A-50 can fly four hours at 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from its base at a maximum take-off weight of 190 metric tons (420,000 lb).

The aircraft can be refuelled by Il-78 tankers.

The radar “Vega-M” is designed by MNIIP, Moscow, and produced by NPO Vega.

The “Vega-M” can track up to 150 targets simultaneously within 230 kilometres (140 mi).

Large targets, like surface ships, can be tracked at a distance of 400 kilometres (250 mi).

Development work on a modernized version, the A-50U, began in 2003; state tests started on 10 September 2008, using a Russian Air Force A-50 “37 Krasnyy” as a prototype.

It replaces analogue avionics with a new digital avionics suite, made by Vega Radio Engineering Corporation, that speeds data processing and improves signal tracking and target detection.

Crew rest, toilet and galley facilities are also included in the upgrade.

After completing the joint state tests, Beriev has delivered the first A-50U to the Russian Air Force.

The aircraft, “47 Krasnyy'”RF-92957, was handed over at Beriev’s facility in Taganrog on 31 October 2011.

It was accepted by an aircrew serving with the 2457th Aviation Base for Combat Operation of Airborne Early Warning Aircraft at Ivanovo Severny, which is the only base using the A-50 operationally (it operates 16 aircraft).

The fourth A-50U, “41 Taganrog”, was delivered to the Russian Aerospace Forces on 7 March 2017.

The fifth A-50U, “45 Krasnyy”, was delivered on 6 December 2018.

7 aircraft have been delivered as of December 2021.

The A-50U upgrade forms the basis of the concept for Beriev A-100 AEW&C.

Its configuration will be similar, but with a new Vega Premier active electronically scanned array radar.



Updated variant of the A-50 fitted with mid-air refuelling capability.


Updated variant of the A-50M with modern electronics and increased crew comfort.


One-off stop-gap telemetry and tracking aircraft.


One-off stop-gap telemetry and tracking aircraft.


(Airborne Check-Measure-and-Control Centre) – Il-76-based Range Control and Missile tracking platform.

Initially built to support Raduga Kh-55 cruise missile tests.


One-off special mission aircraft with unknown duties.


An export version for the Indian Air Force with Aviadvigatel PS-90A-76 engines and Israeli EL/W-2090 radar.





49.59 m (162 ft 8 in)


50.5 m (165 ft 8 in)


14.76 m (48 ft 5 in)

Wing area

300 m2 (3,200 sq ft)



TsAGI P-151 (13%)


TsAGI P-151 (10%)

Empty weight

75,000 kg (165,347 lb)

Max take-off weight

170,000 kg (374,786 lb)


4 × Soloviev D-30KP turbofan engines,

117.68 kN (26,460 lbf) thrust each


Maximum speed

900 km/h (560 mph, 490 kn)


7,500 km (4,700 mi, 4,000 nmi)

Service ceiling

12,000 m (39,000 ft)

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