Beriev is looking to expand the capabilities of its Be-200 jet-powered amphibian in a bid to find new markets for the aircraft.
Part of United Aircraft Corp. (UAC), the company has widely marketed the aircraft to countries around the world but so far has only managed to sell 12—five delivered to the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) between 2003 and 2011, and one for Azerbaijan. A deal for a further six aircraft for EMERCOM, to be delivered by 2016, was reached in May 2011.
The Russian defense ministry signed another 8.4 billion–ruble ($268 million) contract last month for six aircraft, two of which will be delivered in the Be-200ES basic configuration capable of conducting aerial firefighting. The other four will be the Be-200PS model, which lacks the firefighting capability. Beriev is hopeful of a follow-up order for another eight aircraft from the defense ministry.
The company is also eager to market the aircraft to non-CIS customers. The Be-200ES is already certified by EASA, and work to obtain Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) approval of the aircraft is underway. According to Beriev, such approvals would “open the way for the Russian aircraft in North America’s aerial firefighting market.”
The company is offering the aircraft to meet aerial firefighting needs in China and is hoping to participate in trials in China this year. Other customers in the region are looking at the aircraft to fulfill requirements for environmental patrol and research as well as search and rescue operations at sea.
To boost the aircraft’s capabilities, Beriev is working with Selex Galileo to install the company’s Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance system (ATOS), which has been developed for use in the patrol mission. The company is also looking to introduce new electro-optical sensors, which will let the crew discover and target the seat of forest fires even in low-visibility and smoke. A heads-up display will deliver data to the pilot. Beriev says such a system has already been tested on the Be-200 prototype and could be fitted as an option on new-build aircraft, or retrofitted.
France’s Sécurité Civile agency tested the Be-200 back in 2011 with the aim of possibly replacing some of the Bombardier 415 “Superscooper” fleet, but this program has not proceeded any further.