Russia's Beriev has completed modification of an A-50 (converted Ilyushin Il-76) to be used as the platform for an Elta Phalcon airborne early warning (AEW) system for China.

According to Russian sources, the aircraft has already been flight tested. It is due to be delivered to Israel this month, when the Phalcon and other systems will be installed by Israel Aircraft Industries' Elta subsidiary.

The Chinese have a requirement for four AEW systems, worth at least $1 billion, although a contract for only one Phalcon has been signed so far.

According to Russian sources, Beriev has added a radome similar to that used on the A-50 Mainstay AEW aircraft in service with the Russian air force. Unlike the A-50's rotating radome, the equivalent for the Chinese aircraft is a fixed triangular phased-array antenna providing 360° coverage. It will be equipped with systems similar to those installed in a Chilean air force Phalcon-equipped Boeing 707.

As well as the long-range radar, the aircraft will carry an electronic support measures and electronic intelligence system, and a communications intelligence system. Elta is using Chilean air force operational experience to improve the radar's performance. China will evaluate the Phalcon against the Marconi Electronic Systems Argus, also likely to be integrated with an A-50 airframe.

Source: Flight International