Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Indian Navy retires Tu-142M maritime patrol aircraft

Indian Navy has retired its Tupolev Tu-142 M Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance (LRMR) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft fleet after 29 years of service.

The eight aircraft fleet had achieved an accident free flight of 30,000 flight hours since induction to Indian Navy in April 1988.

The fleet were operated from INS Rajali, India’s premiere Naval Air Station in Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu. They flew for one last time today along with three Chetak helicopters, two Dorniers, one each IL-38 and the successor Boeing P-8I Poseidon.

In fact, only three of the eight Tu-142M aircraft inducted were airworthy when retired.

Armed with torpedoes, depth charges and sonobuoys, the Tu-142M with a combat radius of 6500 km, was the heaviest, fastest and highest flying turbo prop in the world. It truly brought in the era of dominant Maritime Reconnaissance and Airborne ASW for the Indian Navy and has always been counted as amongst the best and the most feared LRMR platforms in the world.

The Tu-142 was derived from the Soviet Tu-95 turboprop strategic bomber in the 1960s to counter the nuclear capable Polaris missile equipped U.S. Navy submarine fleet.

With a wingspan of 50 meters, the Tu-142 is powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12 turboprop engines driving an eight bladed contra-rotating propellers. The NK-12 turboprop engine rated at 15,000 hp is the most powerful turboprop engine ever built.

With a top speed of 925 kmph, the aircraft can loiter for 10.5 hours and have a combat radius of 6,500 km, which can be extended with in-flight refueling.

Indian Navy has acquired the Boeing P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to replace the Tu-142 fleet. Eight P-8I aircraft is operational, and is procuring an additional four P-8I aircraft under the option clause.