Naval Air: Russian Eyes Over the Indian Ocean

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October 11, 2007: India has received another Russian built Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Beginning in 1988, when it received three of these aircraft, India has bought more and now has a fleet of nine. The Tu-142 (PHOTO), which was introduced in the 1970s, is the patrol version of the Tu-95 heavy bomber. This aircraft entered service 51 years ago, and is expected to remain in service, along with the Tu-142 variant, for another three decades. Over 500 Tu-95s were built, and it is the largest and fastest turboprop aircraft in service. Russia still maintains a force of 60 Tu-95s, but has dozens in storage, which can be restored to service as either a bomber or a Tu-142.

The 188 ton aircraft has flight crew consisting of a pilot, copilot, engineer and radioman, and an unrefueled range of 15,000 kilometers. Max speed is 925 kilometers an hour, while cruising speed is 440 kilometers an hour. Originally designed as a nuclear bomber, the Tu-142 version still carries up to ten tons of weapons (torpedoes, mines, depth charges, anti-ship missiles, sonobuoys) and a lot more sensors (naval search radar, electronic monitoring gear). There are two 23mm autocannon mounted in the rear of the aircraft. The mission crew of a Tu-142 usually consists of eight personnel, who operate the radars and other electronic equipment. Patrol flights for the Tu-142 can last twelve hours or more, especially when in-flight refueling is used. Maximum altitude is 45,000 feet, although the aircraft flies much lower when searching for submarines. India requires aircraft like these for patrolling the vast India ocean waters that surround the subcontinent. India wants to upgrade the electronics on its Tu-142s, but has been put off by the high price, and low performance, of what the Russians have offered. So Israeli suppliers have been consulted to see if there is a better solution available.

 


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