Friday, April 1, 2011

Demise of Hydro-Aviation_Russia

by Mikhail Barabanov

Taganrog Aviation Scientific-Technical Complex (Beriev) them. Beriev - the world's only major design office specializing in the creation of amphibians. Meanwhile, world practice shows that the development direction hydroaviation today is unpromising, obviously unprofitable occupation, and only with the direct support of the state. From an economic point of view, a more expedient reorientation Beriev and its production plant - JSC "Taganrog Aviation" on the design and construction of the "land" (not amphibians) special aircraft. This reorientation process has begun in the USSR, but was suspended in the post-Soviet period.

The origins of maritime aircraft

Taganrogsky Aviation Scientific-Technical Complex. Beriev traces its history to 1934, when the Taganrog aircraft factory at number 31 was formed by the Central Design Bureau (CDB) Marine aircraft. The first task was to organize the production of the sea near a scout - a flying boat MBR-2, developed in 1932 Beriev (1903-1979). As a result, Beriev and was appointed chief designer of the CDB. Prior to this he worked as head of the brigade № 5 (sea planes) CDB for aircraft plant № 39. This office is organized in 1933 and headed by SV Ilyushin.

After the war, led by Beriev to the Soviet Navy has developed a new multi-purpose flying boat Be-6, first flew in 1948 and produced at the plant number 86 in the years 1952-1957 (123 planes). However, the main focus of the bureau was the creation of a seaplane with a jet engine. In 1952 an experimental jet flying boat, P-1, and by the end of the 50's managed to develop the world's first mass-produced jet seaplane, known as Be-10. In the years 1958-1961 by the number 86 was built 27 such boats in the form of flying torpedo bombers. On the Be-10 set 12 world records.

In 1967, a pilot plant № 49 renamed in Taganrog Engineering Works (TMZ), and serial factory number 86 - in Taganrog Mechanical Plant. Dmitrov. In 1968 Beriev retired and a new chief designer of TMZ was appointed AK Konstantinov.

In October 1989, TMZ called Taganrog Scientific-Technical Complex (Beriev), and in December the same year the plant was named after the founder - Beriev. In turn, Taganrog Mechanical Plant. Dmitrov was renamed the Taganrog Aviation Production Enterprise to them.Dmitrov.

"The only real product of the Beriev Aircraft Company in its area of specialization is the Be-200. However, a large number of people wishing to buy it is not visible"

In the 70 years, funding research on hydroaviation in the Soviet Union was strongly reduced. While Taganrog machine-building plant were R & D on anti-submarine aircraft and land-based deck. In 1977, with the assistance of TMZ created aircraft transponder Tu-142MR, and in 1978 - the plane airborne early warning (AEW) and Control A-50 (based on IL-76). In the latter case, TMZ made the head contractor and integrator for the project (IL-76 were built in Tashkent, the main developer of radio engineering complex for them, the radar "Bumblebee" was NPO "Vega"). A total of 80 at Taganrog mechanical plant them. Dmitrov released 25 A-50. In Soviet times, TMZ has also begun work on the aviation combat laser system under the code A-60 (manufactured two experimental aircraft based on Il-76).

However, the amphibious theme was not completely collapsed. In 1973, in the interests of the Soviet Navy began study of a new anti-submarine seaplane from jet engines to replace the Be-12. In 1986, the machine under the designation A-40 "Albatross" made its first flight. This aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 90 tons was the largest jet amphibious aircraft in the world. In 1995, due to the termination of public funding tests A-40 were suspended at that time only two have built a prototype. Renew the program in a revised form and under the symbol A-42 decided in 2007 alone.

In parallel with the development of the A-40 went to TMZ to create a similar concept, but more compact multipurpose amphibious aircraft A-200 with a takeoff weight of 40 tons. Its production is planned to organize at the Irkutsk Aircraft Production Association (IAPA). In 1990 he was ready to draft, but the first prototype flight took place only in 1998. The aircraft was renamed the Be-200 and the post-Soviet period, it became the basis for cooperation between enterprises and corporations Taganrog Irkut, created after the collapse of the Soviet Union on the basis of IAPA.

In 2006 the state was established United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), bringing together all the key enterprises in the industry, including Irkut and Tupolev. As a result, Beriev Aircraft Company. Beriev and TAVIA "(JSC" Taganrog Aviation ") were under the complete control of the state, although in relation to TANTK formal shareholder structure remained the same.

After creating the KLA Alexei Fyodorov, who gets up at the head of the corporation, sold its former intention and lobbied to postpone the production of Be-200 from Irkutsk to Taganrog.Production redeployment should be completed by 2013, for this purpose is planned to spend 4.8 billion rubles.

Today, Beriev Aircraft Company. Beriev is part of the division of special aviation KLA, which in addition hydroaviation will deal with the creation of strategic and long-range bombers Tupolev and special aircraft on the basis of the Tu-214 and IL-76. Based on the priorities of basic enterprise division selected Tupolev. Nevertheless, despite a marginal role in the division Beriev Aircraft Company. Beriev, this bureau together with its serial plant "TAVIA" defines the competence center for the KLA  aviation.

Headed by Beriev and TAVIA Victor Kobzev, former head of JSC "Beta-IR" - a joint venture IAPA, Beriev and TAVIA ", created in 1990 for implementation of the Be-200 (now a majority of the joint venture owned by Irkut ).

Main programs


First customer for BE-200 was the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Russian Federation. In accordance with the contract signed in January 1997, MOE has ordered seven aircraft in the version of the Be-200ES (can be used as search and rescue, fire and transportation), the first of which was built in 2003. However, in reality, by 2006, the ministry has received only four production aircraft (serial numbers 101, 102, 201 and 202) and then seemed to be lost to the Be-200 interest. The fifth was built for the Russian Emergency Ministry aircraft (serial number 203) in April 2008, was sold to Azerbaijan Ministry of Emergencies. Construction of the remaining two planes stalled, and the sixth aircraft (serial number 301) made its first flight in Irkutsk in July 2010. Seventh Be-200ES (serial number 302) should be completed in 2011, with the head board 101 was decommissioned and sent in 2008 by Beriev to repair, where it remained until the present time.

Collage Andrew Sedykh

The situation with the internal order for the Be-200 has changed due to the large number of forest fires in Russia in July and August last year because of an abnormally hot summer. As a result of the events, the Russian government decided to purchase for the MOE has eight Be-200ES. Delivery of the first two aircraft of the backlog Irkut is expected in 2011, the remaining six will be built "TAVIA" and delivered in two batches of three aircraft in 2012 and 2013. In this case, the cost of the eight ordered planes - 12 billion rubles.

Simultaneously, the Russian side continues marketing the Be-200 in the world market, promoting it mostly in fire-fighting version, but due to the high cost of the chances of contracting unlikely. Foreign countries prefer not to buy the Be-200 in the final use, and take it out to solve pressing problems. At various times, aircraft MOE used to extinguish fires in Italy (2004-2005), Portugal (2006-2007), Indonesia (2006), Greece (2007), Israel (2010). The only foreign buyer of Be-200 is by far the Azerbaijani Emergencies Ministry, received the above-mentioned board 203 in 2008.

Suggestions Be-200 aircraft in cargo, medical, administrative, passenger (Be-210), search and rescue (Be-200 ps), anti-(Be-200P), patrol (Be-200MP, the Be-220) and other options are also not find customers.

In May 2010, the Indian Navy requested information  about the possibility of delivery of six Be-200. Delhi plans to use them as patrol and search and rescue, deploying in the area of ​​the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The tender was apparently also participate aircraft Bombardier 415 and Dornier Seastar.

Aircraft based on the Be-200

For most of the modifications of the Be-200 (except maybe the fire version) amphibious doubtful advantage, which only adds impairs toits aerodynamic and weight characteristics. It is therefore quite logical to have projects TANTK to establish on the basis of the Be-200 "Ground" options in replacing the "boat" conventional fuselage (aircraft type). It is known that TANTK now is working on two "ground" version of the Be-200 - command and control aircraft Be-250 (under the forward-looking radar system, developed by the concern "Vega") and the Be-300 in options and antisubmarine patrol Be-300MP ( with the installation of a promising search and the sighting of the "Orca" Development of the Radar-MMS "). "Orca" is also proposed for the new patrol variant Be-200 under the designation Be-200MP.


In 1978, under the leadership of Beriev Aircraft Company was established command and control aircraft A-50. The task of the OKB Beriev included complex integration and adaptation of military transport aircraft Il-76 for placing radio-complex "Bumblebee" development NGOs "Vega". In 1978-1983 in Taganrog converted three prototypes A-50 (product A). Serial production of the A-50 was conducted in Tashkent with the installation of radar complex in Taganrog in 1984 and 1990 (total production vehicles built in 1925).

A-50 Shmel

Since 1984 was the development of a modified A-50M with a radar complex "Bee-2 and PS-90A-76, but in 1990 the work was stopped, and the prototype was left unfinished in Tashkent.

In 1997, Rosvooruzhenie (now Rosoboronexport) and Israel's IAI Corporation signed an agreement to establish a command and control aircraft A-50I. The machine was installed Israeli IAI Phalcon radar system from radar EL/M-2075 with phased array antennas. China, in 1997 ordered the four aircraft worth one billion dollars. By 2000, the work on the first machine was completed by conversion of a former serial A-50, but the U.S. demanded that Israel cease its cooperation with China. In 2001, the converted A-50I was dismantled complex Phalcon, and a blank board in 2002, transferred to China, where he served as a platform for creating your own AWACS aircraft KJ-2000.

The first real owner of Russian-Israeli plane was India. In 2003, signed a contract worth 1.1 billion dollars to supply Delhi three A-50EI with a radar complex IAI Phalcon and PS-90A-76.According to him the first plane scheduled to deliver in 2006, and last - in 2009, but the contract is implemented with considerable delays. The first plane was sent to the Beriev Aircraft Company in Israel to install radar complex in January 2008 and handed over to Indian Air Force in complete form only in May of 2009. Indians were second in March 2010. The third board has been relocated from the Beriev Aircraft Company in Israel in October 2010 and is expected to supply customers in 2011. In New Delhi, will implement an option for three additional aircraft.

Meanwhile, began upgrading combatant A-50 Russian Air Force. Beriev Aircraft Company.Beriev and concern "Vega" has successfully worked out a modification of the A-50U with upgraded radio complexes. In late 2009, signed a certificate of completion of public joint tests of this machine. In 2010, the modernization in the alternative A-50U drill the first of the A-50 Russian Air Force and began work on another board. Total Russian Air Force currently operate 12 aircraft A-50.

In parallel with the Beriev concern "Vega" is the establishment of command and control aircraft A-100 with a radar complex of new generation, designed to replace the A-50. Platform for a new plane should be the same IL-76TD, and in the future - and mastered in Voronezh Ilyushin-476. In August 2010, Director General of concern "Vega" said Vladimir Verba, that "three or four years we get a new complex on the same medium (IL-76).


In the early 90's in Beriev started designing lightweight six-piston multipurpose amphibious aircraft Be-103. The first flight of the new plane took place in 1997. In addition to the Russian Be-103 from 2003 to 2008, was certified in the U.S., China, Brazil and the European Union. At KnAAPO them. Gagarin (part of the Sukhoi) was launched line of production. It was believed that the Be-103 has good market prospects. But in reality, from 1997 to 2005, was built only ten experimental and production aircraft for Russian customers, and three of them crashed.Three more planes were delivered in 2003 in the U.S., since they resold several times.

Great expectations were related to the promotion of the Be-103 in the PRC. In 2003, an agreement to supply China 20 Be-103 aircraft with an option for another 10 planes. Also discussed the organization of licensed production of Be-103 in China (Xuzhou), whose volume is estimated at least 50 planes. However, in the Chinese direction of the Be-103 failed. While in 2003-2007 KnAAPO built all 20 Chinese aircraft order in 2010 and laid on an option, in reality, the PRC was delivered only two aircraft in autumn 2010, the airline's China Flying Dragon Airlines from Tianjin. Other aircraft from taking the Chinese side seems to have declined, and the 18 Be-103 are conserved in KnAAPO. At a cost of about one million dollars and established an increased accident aircraft Be-103 is clearly uncompetitive. To date, the program actually terminated.

Ground-effect craft and other projects

One promising direction TANTK considers the creation of super-heavy amphibian - ground-effect crafts takeoff weight of 2500 tons. Such studies began in the USSR in the 80 years.Now TANTK with TsAGI continues to develop this theme, as Kobzev once again reported during Gidroaviasalon 2010. The advantage of ground-effect crafts should be high efficiency and high load capacity. Their primary function creators can see in the trans-oceanic container traffic. For the ground-effect crafts do not need any special infrastructure, they may be used, taking advantage of available ports. The project, according to Kobzeva need 15 to 20 years and more than 10 billion dollars. However, serious doubt that such funds will be found, especially since the cost-effectiveness remains to be proven.

Simultaneously TANTK continues to promote further stretching the 90-ies a number of projects amphibious aircraft - four-seat light piston-Be-101 (take-off weight up to 1,5 tons), twin-engine turboprop Be-112 (11 tons) and the Be-114 (22 tons) and corporate amphibian-170. Possibility of bringing all of these programs before implementation is unlikely.

Unpromising directions

Beriev Aircraft Company. Beriev remains the world's only major aviation KB, specializing in hydroaviation promotes its "unique competence" in this area. Meanwhile, it is obvious that the era of hydroaviation thing of the past. In large hydroplanes has remained only a very narrow niche of the fire and rescue vehicles, and a real need for seaplanes, even in this niche in doubt. Light-engine seaplanes retains some value, but this demand is met float variants of conventional "dry" light-engine planes, the good, the operation is possible easy replacement of the wheel chassis to float back and forth. An urgent need for specialized light-engine amphibian flight characteristics are obviously worse than the "ground" planes, missing, and these amphibians are now small-scale exotic products for enthusiasts.

In light of this insistence TANTK hydroaviation dooms this company on the marginal position and leads to embezzlement on inherently unrealizable projects. It seems that there is not and there will be no market demand for developing new projects Beriev amphibians (Be-101 Be-112 Be-114 Be-170), not to mention the frankly fabulous ground-effect crafts projects.Attempts to revive the airline A-40/42 also have no obvious significant prospects, and the idea of ​​building the organization for the Russian Navy's only a few instances of heavy and expensive A-42 looks very questionable from an economic and operational point of view and is likely to be revised after an objective analysis of government agencies.

The only real product of the Beriev Aircraft Company in its area of ​​specialization is the Be-200.However, much of wanting to buy it is not visible, and even a pilot customer (MES of Russia) before the summer fires in 2010 clearly did not show much interest in this aircraft. Real prospects for continued production of the Be-200 depends mainly on how long the government will continue such acts of charity against the KLA and Beriev at taxpayers' expense.

Beriev was obvious even to the 70th year, and the decision of the leadership of the Soviet aircraft industry at the time of realigning the bureau in the direction of work on the "land of the special" aviation should be regarded as completely justified. Projects amphibian A-40, BE-200 and Be-103 did not bring any benefit or TANTK or state as a whole, becoming costly relapses clearly showed the dead end of this issue. As a result, and now, as can be seen, the main income Beriev gets not to participate in the production piece of the Be-200, and from the programs of A-50EI, A-50U A-60, R & D on new AWACS aircraft and other special machines, work the aircraft Tu-142, etc. A very attractive look and designs of Be-250 and Be-300, the latter being capable of becoming virtually no alternative option for promising basic patrol and antisubmarine aircraft for the Russian Navy and for export.

Beriev Aircraft Company. Beriev can have long-term future only if the leadership of the KLA will lead to a logical end started in the Soviet era conversion of Taganrog on the creation of complex aircraft systems, special purpose vehicles (fully concentrating it on the subject, including the transfer of relevant topics from other Russian KB). Obviously, this will require both more rigid approach to the subject of future work Beriev, including cessation of diversion of resources to hydro-aviation projects.

Published in issue number 11 (377) for March 23, 2011


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