Russia’s minister of defense has ordered the purchase of four Be-200 aircraft for the Baltic fleet in the year 2013. A special water airbase will be built for the aircraft. “The fleet definitely needs seaplanes. They can be used for search and rescue operations. If these aircraft will be modernized, as planned, their scope of duties will be expanded”, stated the commander of the Baltic fleet.
The Beriev Be-200 Altair is an amphibious multipurpose aircraft that can be used for firefighting, maritime patrol, search and rescue, transporting passengers or troops, for transporting cargo, and for ASW (anti-submarine warfare). The aircraft can carry up to 72 people or 12 tons of water. The aircraft took its first flight in 1998 and entered service in 2003. The Be-200 has fly-by-wire controls, FMS, GPS/GLONASS satellite navigation, autopilot, and a radar that monitors the weather. The Be-200 is capable of taking off from either a runway that is at least 1,800 meters long, or a body of water that is at least 2,300 meters in length and has a depth of at least 2.5 meters.
The aircraft has been leased by Italy, Portugal, Indonesia, Greece, and Israel, mostly for firefighting purposes. Russia currently operates five of these aircraft and Azerbaijan has one. A new version with Rolls-Royce engines, dubbed the Be-200RR, is currently in development for export to Western countries. The Be-200 has a crew of two, a length of 32 meters, a wingspan of 32.8 meters, a height of 8.9 meters, and an empty weight of 27,600 kg. The aircraft has a max speed of 700 km/hr and a cruise speed of 560 km/hr. The seaplane has a range of 2,100 km, and a service ceiling of 8,000 meters.
Photos taken from russianplanes.