In 1976, after the
success of the Be-12, the Beriev bureau began to research the
feasibility of designing a next generation / jet-powered anti-submarine
seaplane. The design drew the attention of Soviet Navy. In 1983, Soviet
Government chief Designer AK Konstantinov with the support of Navy,
issued an order to Beriev to proceed with the programme, designated A-40
Albatros. The A-40 was conceived as a replacement for the venerable
Be-12 and even to replace the Ilyushin Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft.
Its mission profile called for performing reconnaissance and
anti-submarine and shipping operations in medium range areas. Two
prototypes were built. The first prototype took to the air in 1986. It
was detected by US intelligence in 1988 and designated MERMAID by NATO.
The A-40 aircraft was publicly revealed at the Tushino airshow in August
1989. In 1995, Defense Ministry made a decision about freezing the
scientific research and experimental design work on the A-40 and
beginning the development of new antisubmarine aircraft. The A-40 began
a slight transformation phase which culminated in 2002 with the
delivered of the first A-42 version.