A representative of the Ukrainian air force claimed that Russia is stationing a large number of A-50U “giant flying radars” close to their shared border while also flying over Ukraine and identifying targets for artillery bombardment.
According to a spokeswoman for the High Command, Ukrainian Air Force Yurii Ihnat, there are more than 400 Russian jets, 360 helicopters (including roughly 150 armed helicopters like the Ka-52), and A-50U alert aircraft present close to the Ukrainian border. According to Ihnat, the Russian air force is vigorously policing its own airspace.
Additionally, Russia patrols the areas of Ukraine that it has authority over as well as the airspace above the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian official noted that in the past, constant air conversations between the Il-22 communication relay aircraft and the A-50 early warning plane took place in order to show the target to the Russian military.
The A-50U can track the movements of the enemy, as well as the performance of fighter jets and ground targets. This kind of aircraft can control a number of fighters simultaneously to launch surprise strikes or counterattacks. The Beriev Aeronautical Science Complex in Taganrog developed the Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft based on the Soviet Il-76 cargo plane.
This aircraft was created to take the place of the Tupolev Tu-126 Moss. The A-50 flew for the first time in 1978, and the Soviet air force has used it since that year. At the moment, Russia uses the A-50U version Significant updates have been made to this aircraft. Later A-50Us can be easily recognized by the characteristic “mushroom shape” right on the back of the aircraft.
The Russian A-50U can detect fighter jets from a distance of 650 km. Ground or sea targets at 300 km and cruise missiles at 215 km. The aircraft is capable of conducting air command and control operations continuously for more than 9 hours and can simultaneously track up to 300 different targets. The A-50U has a length of 46.5m, a wingspan of 50.5m, a height of 14.7m, an empty mass of 75 tons, a maximum take-off mass of 170 tons.
The aircraft is equipped with four Aviadvigatel PS-90A engines that help achieve a speed of up to 800 km / h and a range of 7,500 km. Currently, the Russian Air Force is using up to 26 A-50Us, which continue to play a pivotal role in the Russian strategic air command.