I’ve been looking for this for a long time. It’s a picture — the first public one, actually — of Russia’s Tu-214R spy plane on a recent test flight near its factory in Kazan.
No one is quite sure what it will do. Some say it will serve as an airborne command post (those radomes make me think an E-8 JSTARS –style ISR/C2 plane rather than an E-4B or an E-6 Mercury) while other say it will be used to scoop up massie quantities of electronic and signals intelligence (ELINT/SIGINT) the way the RC-135 Rivet Joint does.
Both theories make sense given the size of the plane and the shape of its numerous radomes. Still, the lack of a massive canoe-saped radome containing a ground-scaning radar on the belly of the plane seems to suggest the Tu-114R is designed for ELINT and SIGINT missions.
This particular bird, number RA-64511, first flew in 2009 and is expected to complete flight testing next year. A second Tu-124R is being built right now with an in service date of 2014.
Via the Aviatonist and Russianplanes.net.
Read more: http://defensetech.org/#ixzz1wMAnrd4K