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Tupolev Tu-126 (Moss)

Airborne Early Warning Aircraft [ 1965 ]

The Tupolev Tu-126 Moss was a serviceable Airborne Early Warning and Control platform developed from a modified Tu-114 airliner.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/16/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

Design of the Tupolev Tu-126 (NATO codename of "Moss") was conventional and followed much of what made up the large, propeller-driven Soviet bomber concepts throughout the Cold War. The aircraft's appearance was characterized by the circular radome installation atop the rear portion of the fuselage while its general characteristics were formed from the existing Tupolev Tu-114 turboprop airliner of 1961. The flight deck was fitted to the extreme forward end of the fuselage behind a short, glazed-over nose cone. The fuselage was largely tubular from nose to tail, tapering off to a point at the rear. Wings were monoplane assemblies, low-set ahead of amidships and each mounted two contra-rotating engines. The engines were fitted into streamlined nacelles hanging underneath the swept-back wings. The low-set nature of the wings, coupled with the leading edge nacelles, necessitated rather long landing gear legs for optimal clearance. The empennage was dominated by a single rear-swept large vertical tail fin. Swept horizontal tail planes were mid-set installations along the aft fuselage. A ventral strake was identifiable under the empennage with two underfuselage blisters just ahead. A dorsal blister could be seen at the forward fuselage, just aft of the flightdeck. A refueling probe was fitted to the nose.

The Tu-126 was typically crewed by twelve personnel which including two pilots. The aircraft was powered by 4 x Kuznetsov NK-12MV turboprops driving contra-rotating propellers, each engine developing approximately 14,795 horsepower. This supplied the aircraft with a maximum speed of 490 miles per hour, an operational range of up to 4,350 miles and a service ceiling of 35,100 feet. Cruise speed was listed at 323 miles per hour.

The Tu-126 served solely with the Soviet Air Force and Soviet Anti-Air Defense branches in the Airborne Early Warning And Control (AEWAC or "AWACs") role beginning in 1965. The line was retired in 1984 with only twelve units being produced.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

Soviet Union national flag graphic
Soviet Union

Not in Service.


National flag of India National flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union; India
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Special-Mission: Airborne Early Warning (AEW)
Specially-equipped platform providing over-battlefield Command and Control (C2) capability for allied aerial elements.
Special-Mission: Electronic Warfare (EW)
Equipped to actively deny adversaries the ElectroMagnetic (EM) spectrum and protect said spectrum for allied forces.

180.4 ft
(55.00 m)
168.6 ft
(51.40 m)
50.9 ft
(15.50 m)
Empty Wgt
227,076 lb
(103,000 kg)
376,990 lb
(171,000 kg)
Wgt Diff
+149,914 lb
(+68,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Tupolev Tu-126 (Moss) production variant)
Installed: 4 x Kuznetsov NK012MV turboprop engines driving contra-rotating propellers and delivering 14,795 horsepower each.
Max Speed
491 mph
(790 kph | 427 kts)
35,105 ft
(10,700 m | 7 mi)
4,350 mi
(7,000 km | 12,964 nm)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Tupolev Tu-126 (Moss) production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)

Supported Types

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Tu-114 - Commercial Passenger Airliner to which the Tu0126 is based on.
Tu-126 ("Moss") - Developed for AEW service from the Tu-114 commercial passenger airliner.

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Image of the Tupolev Tu-126 (Moss)
Image from the Public Domain.


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