After nearly 30 years, navy retires spy plane ‘Albatross’
On Wednesday, the Indian Navy's three Tupolev Tu-142M aircraft were decommissioned after guarding the Indian Ocean region for nearly three decades at the naval air station INS Rajali in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.
The Tu-142M maritime snooping aircraft, better known as 'Albatross' for its massive wing-span, had on several occasions picked up Chinese and Pakistani submarines operating close to Indian waters.
The aircraft were upgraded in the last decade in Russia to plug the gaps till the time the American aircraft arrived in India and joined the operational service, navy officials said. The fuel-guzzling Tupolev142M's were the primary genuine long-range maritime reconnaissance of the Indian Navy. The TU-142MKE has a speed of around 850 kmph, and a battle range of 6,500-km.
A squadron is also inducting the Boeing P-8I and two of these have also been received. India inked a deal worth US $2.1 billion January 1, 2009 for a total of eight aircraft, and the first aircraft arrived in India on May 15, 2013.
Here are some glorious pictures of the aircraft:
Only three remained operational
Only three of the eight Taganrog-built Tu-142MEs, which were introduced in 1988, remained operational, according to flightglobal. These were being operated by the service's 312 Sqn from INS Rajali, Arakkonam.
All photographs: spokespersonNavy/Twitter
The fastest turboprop aircraft in the world
With its four powerful engines, slender fuselage and swept wings, Tupolev is the fastest turboprop aircraft in the world and reportedly is difficult to intercept by fighters.
Several modifications for the Indian Navy
The decommissioning comes weeks after the navy bid farewell to aircraft carrier INS Viraat. During the last nearly three decades, the 'Albatross' has undergone several modifications to keep up with evolving technology and changing requirements of the Indian Navy.
Boeing P-8I, the successor
The first squadron of Boeing P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft was dedicated to the nation on November 14, 2015. Armed with the mighty Harpoon anti-ship missile, the Boeing P-8I Squadron (INAS 312A) will boost Navy's activities such as anti-surface warfare, long-range antii-submarine warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance and littoral missions.
TU-142M becomes 'heritage'
The Navy will also celebrate silver jubilee of INS Rajali, the naval air station which was synonymous with the Tupolev and its home for the last 29 years. The ‘heritage display' of TU-142M would also be inaugurated as part of the ceremony.