Story by TASS Russian news agency
The only Polar hydro airfield in Safronovo in Murmansk region will be upgraded for Be-200 deployment, Defense Ministry sources said. It was built in 1936 for the naval aviation of the Northern fleet and accommodated a museum of the naval aviation in the past decades.
The sources said the time of the creation of the Arctic amphibious unit will depend on the industry.
Be-200 is the biggest modern amphibious jet. It can take off from land and water. The powerful above-the-wing D-436TD engines develop a speed of over 700 km/h. Be-200 can land on water in 1.3-meter high waves. It needs a 1.8-km long concrete airstrip on land and 2.5-km long on water.
Several Be-200 units are to be created in various fleets. The first aircraft are built in the rescue option and can be engaged to extinguish wildfires. The aircraft can patrol the 200-mile zone for six hours. The optical surveying station with a heat imaging channel allows Be-200 to operate at night and in fog. The amphibian can carry 45 people, an inflatable boat and rescue means.
In May 2020, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the amphibious aircraft would have an antisubmarine option. So far no antisubmarine amphibian has been presented.
Be-200 will operate along the whole Arctic coast. They will control the Barents Sea and ensure submarine exit from deployment bases, expert Dmitry Boltenkov said.
“Their missions will include antisubmarine actions, as US submarines regularly sail to the Barents Sea. Rescue operations are another important mission. There is intensive navigation in the area, submarines go on combat duty, warships and fishing boats sail, and the Northern Sea Route is nearby,” he said.
Be-200 was designed on the basis of A-40 amphibian. Patrol and antisubmarine options were to be created. The Navy said in 2015 it planned to replace Be-12 with Be-200.
In 2013, the Defense Ministry signed a contract for six Be-200 with the Beriev Aircraft Plant. In 2017, it cancelled the contract, as it did not receive a single aircraft.
The contract was renewed in 2018. The military ordered a batch of three Be-200ChS for rescue work. Even if Be-200 fails to land on water, it can drop suspended rescue containers with life rafts, food and water. The aircraft can extinguish wildfires. The military are regularly engaged in the mission in hard-of-access areas.
The first Be-200 built for the Navy took off in February. In July, it was accepted by the 859th combat training and retraining center of the naval aviation in Yeisk. The new aircraft has participated in the Navy parade in St. Petersburg.
The construction of other two Be-200 is nearing completion. They have to be handed over to the military by the end of the year. A new contract is to be signed then for additional aircraft for the Navy, the Izvestia said.