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Beriev delivered third A-50EI

The third A-50EI airborne warning and control aircraft serialled KW3553 built by Beriev company for the Indian Air Force (IAF) under a trilateral contract was ferried from Taganrog to Israel on 8 October 2010 for ELTA to fit it with the MSA radar system.

The first two production A-50EIs were delivered to the customer in 2009–2010. They are in service with IAF now.

The A-50EI airborne warning and control system aircraft was developed under the 2004 Russo-Indian-Israeli contract. It is based on the airframe of the Ilyushin Il-76TD airlifter produced by TAPC and fitted by Beriev with PS-90A-76 engines, and Israeli radar system MSA (Phalcon) mounted on the aircraft by Israeli company ELTA. In addition, the aircraft is equipped with a datalink from Russian radio corporation Vega.

The first Il-76TD (c/n 94-02), earmarked for conversion into the lead A-50EI plane, was flown from the manufacturer plant in Tashkent to Taganrog in April 2005. Fitting the first aircraft with PS-90A-76 engines, radar fairings and the in-flight refueling system as well as other airframe modifications under the A-50EI programme was complete in autumn 2007. The aircraft performed its maiden flight from Beriev’s airfield in Taganrog on 29 November 2007. On 20 January 2008, it was ferried to Israel for assembly of the radar system and conduct of the full set of improvements and tests. The first flight of the radar-equipped aircraft took place in Tel Aviv on 5 June 2008. The plane had been tested in Israel until last spring, after which it flew to India on 25 May 2009 for its IAF in-service ceremony at Palam air base near New Delhi on 28 May. The aircraft was serialled KW3551.

The second A-50EI aircraft under that contract, which was based on the Il-76TD airframe (c/n 94-03) delivered to Beriev in June 2005, first flew in Taganrog on 11 January 2009 and went to Israel for its radar system installation on 24 June 2009, following the completion of its factory tests. Outfitting the plane with the radar system had taken about nine months, and on 25 March 2010 the plane was ferried to the customer and entered service with IAF, serialled KW3552.

The third A-50EI wrapped around the airframe of the Il-76TD (c/n 94-04) completed its first flight in Taganrog on 9 June 2010 and then had spent four months being painted in Ulyanovsk and tested and debugged in Taganrog. Once it has been equipped with the radar system, cleared by the acceptance tests and delivered to IAF, the contract for the three AWACS aircraft will be fulfilled. Nevertheless, the customer is not about to limit itself to three aircraft only. Negotiations are under way on delivery of several more aircraft of the type.


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