Russia is planning to restore the Beriev A-40 Albatros submarine-hunting amphibian. This was a abandoned project when the Soviet Union disintegrated, Moscow hoped to revive the amphibian to perform coastal patrols and anti-submarine tasks when needed.
The sudden changes in the world today, plus the economy gradually recovering after the Soviet Union disintegrated, this is the motivation for the Russians to gradually restore the super projects that were abandoned after 1991. Among the Russian weapons that are planning to revive is the appearance of the giant seaplane Beriev A-40 Albatros. Moscow hopes the aircraft will be able to enter service in the early 2020s. The aircraft will carry out patrol missions along the Russian coast and be ready to engage in enemy submarine hunting operations.
The Beriev A-40 Albatros is an amphibious aircraft designed by the Beriev Aircraft Company for the anti-submarine warfare role in the late 1980s, but was never put into mass production when the Soviet Union disintegrated and Russia then did not have the necessary resources to continue the project. Only one prototype lay completed and a second nearing completion.
The Beriev A-40 was intended as a replacement for the Beriev Be-12 amphibian and the land-based Ilyushin Il-38. With ambition to become the largest amphibian plane in the world, the A-40 Albatros first flew in 1986 and entered service in limited numbers in 1990. Because of the size and uncharacteristically high autonomy for a seaplane, the A-40 amphibian was named after the largest sea bird in the world.
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The most ambitious Soviet project amphibian aircraft received a second chance. The United Aircraft Corporation announced plans in September 2018 to resume production of the legendary Albatross, the world’s largest A-40 flying boats, designed to search for and destroy submarines. And although these seaplanes began to develop as early as the early 1970s, not a single aviation power has yet been able to create anything even closely resembling.
The A-40 was an all-metal construction with the engines located in the maximum splashproof zone, above the wing roots, atop each of the main landing gear nacelles at the rear of each wing root. The swept wings had a marked anhedral angle, with balance floats attached by short pylons directly under each wingtip. This wings ensured efficiency with the cruise and the bombardment, and also small takeoff and landing speeds. The fuselage is a smooth, tubular shape that houses the cockpit at its extreme forward end. The tail unit was a T-shaped assembly. For land-based sorties, the aircraft is fitted with a pair of four-wheeled main legs and a two-wheeled nose leg.
The 90 tons plane is equipped with two Soloviev D-30KPV turbofans engines delivering 117.7 Kilonewton each. There are also two Kolesov RD36-35 turbojets takeoff booster producing 23 Kilonewton each for its shorter take-off quality. The dimensions and capabilities of the aircraft are impressive: the length and wingspan of more than 40 meters, the height is 11m and the wing area is 200 square meters. This large aircraft turned out to be extremely manageable and easy-to-lift. The maximum speed was listed at 800 km/h with an overall range out to 4100km, the practical ceiling is 9,700m and the time of continuous patrol is up to 12 hours. The A-40 was cleared to take-off in Sea State 6 conditions. A typical operating crew numbered eight to include a pair of pilots and systems specialists. An in-flight refueling probe was installed for extended endurance.
For submarine hunting, a range of naval equipments have been planned for the A-40, including Sonobuoys sonar system for anti-submarine warfare or underwater acoustic research. There are also Depth charges and naval mines. To destroy the submarine A-40 can be equipped with three Orlan torpedoes or six Korshun guided missiles. For anti-surface warfare roles, the A-40 can be equipped with Kh-35 Anti-ship missiles. Ordnance is managed through external underwing hardpoints or an internal bomb bay.
Over the years the creation of different civil modifications on the base A-40 were examined. Amphibian aircraft for the extinguishing of forest fires A-40 could collect during gliding up to 25 tons of water. Besides strictly fire extinguishing, A-40 would solve the problems of delivery into the region of the fire of firefighting teams, special means and equipment, patrolling forest tracts with the firefighting team aboard, the aerial photography of fires and locality adjacent to them.
The Beriev Be-200 is a related A-40 development which utilizes the same basic configuration and stands as a more modern, refined offering. The Be-200 is intended for production in transport, passenger-carrying, fire-fighting, patrol and search-and-rescue versions. The aircraft’s maximum take-off weight of 42 ton is half that of the A-40. Another version of the A-40 is the A-42 search and rescue version.
Recently, Russian media reported that the Russian Ministry of Defense had plans to order three A-40s. Currently, Russian Defense Ministry authorities are establishing tactical and technical requirements for the new A-40 aircraft, adjusting parameters to suit operational requirements in the present era. Accordingly, the new generation “Albatrosss” can be equipped with an air refueling system and two D-27 propeller engines, increasing the aircraft’s flight range from 4100 to 9300 km.
A-40 Albatros will also be equipped with a range of new next-generation systems such as target-finding radar, thermal detectors, marine wave parameters, navigation systems, aerial communication systems, as well as weapons control systems. The mission of the aircraft will be to destroy surface, submarine and coastal targets, spread mines, and use submarine search sonars.