On April 18, 2014, the United States banned an inspection flight of a Russian aerial surveillance aircraft over its territory. Such flights are performed regularly within the framework of a multilateral international treaty signed in 1992 in Helsinki (DON) - the Open Skies program. Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, stated that the United States takes "an extremely unconstructive position with regard to the certification of Russian digital surveillance equipment."
The Free Beacon, citing an unnamed US State Department official, explains: US intelligence officials and congressmen want the Barack Obama administration to refuse to certify "new Russian observer aircraft with digital sensors, including the latest radars that allow the aircraft to" see. " through buildings”(the wording of the magazine).
Such a development of events could not pass by a novice expert in the field of military aerial reconnaissance - army reporter Alexander Roshka. He went to the plant where the most modern aerial surveillance aircraft of Russia are being built, developed at JSC Tupolev on the basis of the Tu-214 passenger aircraft - Kazan Aviation Plant named after V. I. S. P. Gorbunov, who is part of the United Aircraft Corporation.
Formally, this trip was timed to coincide with one important event - the transfer of the second aircraft of the Tu-214ON line to the Russian Air Force. However, I'll start in order.
I must say right away that we had no time limits. The press service of the plant allocated two days to get acquainted with the "spy" aircraft Tu-214ON and study the process of modernization of the Tu-22M3 supersonic missile-carrying bombers.
The first in the program was announced Ultra difficult for Americans TU-214OS. Why the Americans are so afraid of him, I tried to find out with the help of three specialists. Deputy Technical Director of the Kazan Aviation Plant Sergey Shmarov, Representative of OJSC Radio Engineering Concern Vega - Deputy Chief Designer of the Open Sky surveillance system Vladimir Medvedev and Senior Inspector Engineer of the Russian Air Force - Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Lutsiv.
Until today, 7 aircraft operated under the Open Skies program in the Russian Air Force: five - An-30B, one - Tu-154MLK, one - Tu-214ON. Now two modern Tu-214ON will serve in the ranks.
Sergey Shmarov spoke about the purpose and some technical characteristics of this aircraft:
From left to right: Deputy Technical Director of Kazan Aviation Plant Sergey Shmarov, Representative of OJSC Radio Engineering Concern Vega - Deputy Chief Designer of the Open Sky surveillance system Vladimir Medvedev
“Tu-214 is a modernization of Tu-204“two hundred”. During the certification, it was decided to name the aircraft - Tu-214. What are its differences from the "two hundred and fourth"? Mechanized container loading was introduced into the BGO (luggage and cargo compartment), the chassis was modernized and reinforced, a second additional door was installed (near the engine). Changes have been made to the layout of the aircraft - placement of rack equipment. In the means of mechanization, composite materials are used (elevator, rudder, slats, flaps, wing fairings, landing gear flaps). These and many other additional innovations made it possible to lighten the weight of the aircraft and increase its take-off weight to 110.7 tons. In addition, the flight range was increased to 7200 km.
As for the changes for Open Skies, this is the know-how for the implementation of an additional energy supply system. The system allows separate power supply of special onboard complexes using additional generators. With the help of this system, we increased the aircraft flight in an emergency to 120 minutes, which meets the ETOPS requirements. Both aircraft (tail numbers 64519 and 64525) under this program are twin brothers. The only difference that did not come true was that they planned to install film cameras on the first plane, but then they installed digital ones.
According to the contract, the delivery includes only two machines of this modification. This type of aircraft was chosen by the Ministry of Defense in 2005 (the chief of armaments of the Air Force made such a decision). It was planned to replace the Tu-154 with an aircraft of the same class, but with more economical characteristics.
Very cautiously, but the issue of the purchase of Tu-214ON by foreigners for the Open Skies program is being considered. During the two MAKS, representatives of a dozen countries were interested in this aircraft (including leasing).
Vladimir Medvedev shared information about the aviation surveillance system installed on the Tu-214ON:
“34 countries (European countries, USA and Canada) are taking part in the implementation of the Open Skies program. The treaty allows you to create observation aircraft and fly over countries that have signed the treaty. Every country has the right, but does not always do it. This aircraft, according to many experts, is the best among the existing surveillance aircraft. All foreigners envy us with this plane. Now the matter is left for the examination of the equipment of this aircraft - a very difficult and capacious process of work. This will be done by specialists from the Ministry of Defense. If they attract us, then we will help them. The first plane does not fly abroad yet and is based in Chkalovsky. At the end of last year, it was put into operation. During this time, pilots and on-board operators underwent a special training course.
"Open Skies" provides for several types of surveillance equipment agreed by all participating countries. A feature of these tools is the resolution of the equipment - the quality of the equipment, which should not be better than specified in the contract. For optical means, this is a photographic equipment with a resolution of no better than 30 cm. On a side-looking locator, the resolution is 3 meters. On infrared equipment - 50 cm.
Abroad, such aircraft can only fly in peacetime. The plane was made purely to control the military infrastructure of other countries - legal intelligence. Russia's quota is 42 flights over countries (An-30B is still flying over Europe, Tu-154 over the USA and Canada). The cameras are a little short of the capture zones at the request of our consumers, but three cameras (one central and two side ones) in total provide the required coverage area.
All planes of foreign countries mostly have simple film cameras. If we talk about airplanes, then the "Turks" and "Swedes" have quite good sides. Aircraft of this designation have the right to fly everywhere on a previously agreed route. If there are no dangerous phenomena, no one has the right to refuse a flight. The flight altitude must be such that the resolution is no better than specified in the contract. For example, for a film camera, a resolution of 30 cm is achieved at an altitude of 3 km. (below he has no right to turn on this equipment). If this configuration of the Tu-214ON is fully certified by foreigners, the aircraft will be allowed for flights abroad."
Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Lutsiv briefly commented on the control of the aircraft and the Open Skies program:
“My responsibilities include training the crew on these types of aircraft. In this configuration, the Tu-214ON has a crew of five people - a navigator and an onboard radio operator were added to the pilots. Compared to the “carcasses”, “silts” and “anushka” of the previous years, I can only say one thing - there are fewer hydromechanics and more electronics. Sometimes I just want to press the pedal into the floor. For some reason, Americans still fly Boeing 707. As for the Open Skies program itself, I have flown in many countries and it seems to me that only us and the Americans need it. This is a kind of alternative to satellite tracking!"