Albatross Revival?

DURING THE Gidroaviasalon airshow at Gelendzhik in September, Beriev’s Director General, Victor Kobzev, said that «the issue of financing has been settled» for the Beriev A-40 Albatross. He added that Beriev had secured a Defence Ministry order to develop and flight-test a new prototype, the A-42, with «additional capabilities». He said deliveries would begin in 2011.

Beriev built two A-40 ASW amphibian prototypes in the late 1980s, but lack of funding resulted in their tests being put on the back burner, and plans for production by the TAVIA plant in Taganrog came to nothing. Beriev was also forced to suspend construction of the third Albatross prototype, which was to be the A-42 search and rescue version.

Design work carried on, however, and since 1994 Beriev has been developing the A-42PE upgraded patrol/SAR amphibian powered by two 14,000hp (10,444kW) D-27A propfans and an RD-33AS turbofan booster engine. The aircraft would also be fitted with an up-to-date avionics suite. Take-off weight was to increase to 211,6401b (96,000kg) and range to 6,095nm (11,500km), with a maximum speed of 408kts (770 km/h) and a combat load of 18,7401b (8,500kg) in sea-state 5.

However, Russia’s withdrawal from the Antonov An-70 programme, and hence loss of the promising Ukrainian Ivchenko-Progress D-27 engine, led Beriev to seek other powerplants. According to Victor Kobzev, the upgraded Albatross will now be powered by modified Soloviev PS-90A turbofans 30% more powerful than the D-30KPV which powered the original two A-40s, and will feature even more advanced avionics. The NHS institute, part of the Leninets holding company, is developing an integrated search and targeting system based on the Sea Dragon family. The flight navigation suite will be based on NIIAO’s ARIA system, which is installed in production Be-200 amphibians. Once advanced avionics are developed there are plans to expand its role to include maritime patrol.

In addition to the Russian MoD contract, the up-rated Albatross could have further promising prospects. The Indian Navy has taken interest as it assesses options for upgrading its patrol and ASW aircraft fleet, made up of Russian-made land-based Tu-142MEs and II-38s. An Indian Navy delegation has already discussed ordering the type.

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