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The UK Defense Intelligence: russia, Alarmed by Ukraine's Hosting of Western-Supplied Combat Aircraft, Initiates Use of the A-50 MAINSTAY D

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The A-50 Mainstay Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft (AEW&C) / Open source illustrative photo
The A-50 Mainstay Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft (AEW&C) / Open source illustrative photo

For the first time, russia has likely started using A-50 MAINSTAY D, its Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, to identify targets over Ukraine for its SA-21 long-range ground-based air defense missile system

This adds to MAINSTAY’s core mission of co-ordinating fighter aircraft.

Compared to SA-21’s usual ground-based radar, MAINSTAY can use its radar to spot adversary aircraft at longer ranges because its altitude allows it to see further around the curvature of the earth, the UK Defense Intelligence reports.

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russia has likely expedited integrating MAINSTAY and SA-21 partially because it is concerned about the prospect of Ukraine deploying Western-provided combat aircraft.

The A-50, Defense Express
The A-50 can control up to ten fighter aircraft for either air-to-air intercept or air-to-ground attack missions

There is a realistic possibility that russia will accept more risk by flying MAINSTAY closer to the front-line in order to effectively carry out its new role.

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