An aerial shot made during a US interception of a Russian Navy IL-38 in August 1986 (Image © US Navy)

Russian Northern Fleet aviators back to school

An aerial shot made during a US interception of a Russian Navy IL-38 in August 1986 (Image © US Navy)
An aerial shot made during a US interception of a Russian Navy IL-38 in August 1986 (Image © US Navy)

Russia’s Northern Fleet naval aviators have to go back to school to get a handle on the revamped Ilyushin IL-38N submarine hunter and maritime patrol aircraft Russian media reported on Sunday 5 January 2014.

A Northern Fleet spokesperson gave the press core an update on the new old aircraft with NATO reporting name May that made its first flight in 1961. The modernisation of the IL-38 includes new hydro-acoustic and magnetic beacons, which are reportedly equal or better than the ones of NATO. The new Novella sensors can detect targets up to 320 km (172 nautical miles) away.

The Novella system is a copy of the Sea Dragon system of the Indian Navy IL-38s. The sensors are able to detect magnetic variations to find submarines and surface vessels, or wales and other big sea animals.

The IL-38 has a typical crew of 7. The plane can cruise up to 323 knots at a maximum altitude of 24,000 feet. The IL-38s have so fare made more than 6,000 flights in their years in service. Ilyushin built 58 aircraft of the type, but it is unclear how many of the 45 aircraft known to have flown in Russian service are still in airworthy condition.

The Russian Northern Fleet intends to use the IL-38N also to update their Arctic Ocean charts. Russia is currently building up its forces big time, focusing a lot on those facing Scandinavia, NATO and the Arctic Ocean. Old bases in the Arctics are re-opened, units are moving in. Meanwhile the Russians also are engaged in joint training with NATO countries, like with Norwegian border guards, to take the heat of things.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

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