Russia Modernizes Fleet of A-50M AWACS Planes

Russia has started official testing of its modernized A-50M Mainstay AWACS aircraft for the country's Air Force, a Russian electronics company said Wednesday.

The A-50 Mainstay is a Russian airborne warning and control system aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane. Russia adopted the aircraft in 1984, and the Air Force currently has 16-20 A-50 planes, according to various reports.

"The A-50M is the most complex aircraft and we have successfully modernized it," said Vladimir Verba, general director of the Vega Radio Engineering Corp. "The aircraft is undergoing official tests at present and has shown excellent performance so far."

The modernization of the A-50M focused on the replacement of outdated analogue equipment with digital electronics systems.

"We have greatly improved the processing of the information and significantly decreased the processing time," Verba told RIA Novosti.

In many aspects, the A-50 is compared to the E-3 Sentry of the U.S. Air Force. The A-50 can detect targets up to 400 km (250 miles) away.

The aircraft is fitted with an aerial refueling system and electronic warfare equipment.

Russia's state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, said Monday that Russian companies would provide after-sale services for three A-50EI AEW aircraft that have been sold to India. The export version is fitted with the Israeli-made Phalcon radar system.

The first aircraft was scheduled to arrive in 2007-08 but delivery has been delayed.


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