Russia anticipates flight testing the country’s new airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft before the end of 2017.
The AEW&C aircraft, called the A-100, is the successor to the A-50, which is currently in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces. The A-100 is designed with a new radar featuring a pair of phased-array antennas that reportedly can detect fighter jets up to 600 kilometers away and surface ships up to 400 kilometers away.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu suggested in May that the A-100 may be able to detect new generation tactical jets.
Russia is building two A-100s as part of the research and development process. One of these, according to Technodinamika Holding Company deputy head Igor Nasenkov, will be ready for flight testing before the end of this year.
Nasenkov stated, “We have every reason to hope that we’ll be able to test fly the plane before the end of this year.”
He declined to comment on when serial production would begin.
As Russia awaits the A-100 entering service, all A-50s are to undergo a modernization program into the A-50U standard. To date, four aircraft have been upgraded. The upgrades provide new hardware bettering the aircraft’s detection and improving data transfer. The aircraft’s range has also been extended.
Russia has deployed an A-50U to Syria to support its military operation, which backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Given that some of the systems onboard the A-50U are similar to that of the A-100, the deployment gives Russia a chance to test capabilities in an airspace with NATO aircraft.
VIDEO: Apparent footage of Russian A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft in Syria – @AliHa_97 pic.twitter.com/G7Z40oX1AH
— Conflict News (@Conflicts) June 11, 2017
The AEW&C aircraft will prove especially beneficial for Russia should the decision by Moscow to cut military-to-military communications with the U.S. be prolonged.
The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the decision to end cooperation with the U.S. over the latter downing a Syrian Su-22 on June 18, 2017, in the province of Raqqa. The Syrian military said in a statement that the jet was targeting Islamic State positions, but the U.S. contends it had posed a threat to the U.S. and partner forces.