Story by TASS Russian news agency
Defense Ministry sources said several units armed with amphibious Be-200 are to be created. The first one will appear in the Caspian Sea. Other deployment places are being considered.
The ministry has contracted six Be-200. Naval aviation chief Major-General Igor Kozhin said the first three aircraft are to be delivered in 2020. The first one has been sent to the Yeisk training center for test operation. The aircraft participated in the Navy parade in St. Petersburg.
The Caspian flotilla did not have any aviation before. It operated small air groups only in the Civil and the Great Patriotic War. Now the Caspian Sea will become a test range for the amphibians. It has fulfilled the mission since Soviet time when the Lun ground-effect aircraft was tested there.
Be-200 are necessary for rescue operations and defense, expert Dmitry Boltenkov said.
“The aircraft can take off and land on water in a rough sea. There are fire-fighting modifications to drop water over wildfires on major areas. There is room for upgrade. The aircraft can be used against submarines. All Soviet fleets operated amphibious aircraft which played a major role,”
expert Dmitry Boltenkov
The first batch is produced in the rescue option. The amphibian can patrol the 200-mile zone for six hours. It has an optical station with a thermal imaging channel to search for the distressed. Be-200 can operate at night and in fog. The amphibian can carry 45 people, an inflatable boat and rescue means.
In 2019, the aircraft was demonstrated with suspended rescue KAS-150 containers. They are used by the naval aviation to rescue people in water.
The disposable containers can carry various rescue means, including a boat, inflatable raft and clothes. They are dropped when the aircraft cannot land because of high waves or short water area.
The Defense Ministry currently has Be-12 amphibians in the Black Sea and Pacific fleets. Besides rescue missions, they also engage in antisubmarine operations.
The Defense Ministry signed a contract for three Be-200 with the Beriev Aircraft Plant in Taganrog in late 2018. The aircraft were ordered in a rescue configuration and will retain the fire-fighting capability.
It is not the first attempt of the ministry to get new amphibious aircraft. In 2013, it signed a contract for six Be-200. However, it was not fulfilled due to production problems in Taganrog. The ministry cancelled the contract in 2017.
The current contract is more successful. Six months after the signing, the United Aircraft Corporation reported the first Be-200 flight on February 14, 2020. A pair of other aircraft for the military is in a high state of readiness at the enterprise, the Izvestia said.