The Russian Air Force’s new Beriev A-100 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft has performed its first flight on 18th November, according to local Russian media reports.
The aircraft has been developed as the successor to the air force’s Beriev A-50U AEW platform. According to open sources, the Russian Air Force has 14 A-50U aircraft in service. No details appear to have been published by the Russian Ministry of Defence regarding how many A-100s could be procured, nor when they might enter service.
Concerning the aircraft’s subsystems, reports have continued that the A-100 is outfitted with a Vega Radio Engineering Concern Premier Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, which will be able to electronically steer its transmissions in elevation, while the antenna will be mechanically steered in azimuth. Moreover, no details have been published regarding the radar’s performance or its transmission bands.
Although the procurement of new AEW aircraft represents an important enhancement for the Russian Air Force, it still leaves the service arguably under-resourced as regards this capability, and does not resolve the AEW deficit Russia has with its regional rivals: For example, the US Air Force operates 30 E-3B/C/G SENTRY AEW aircraft, with the Royal Air Force flying six E-3D platforms, and the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) having four E-3Fs, while NATO has 16 E-3As in its possession.
Thomas Withington, Paris.