The Indian Navy is set to bid farewell to its mighty Tupolev Tu-142 maritime patrol aircraft later this month, according to reports in India. The move comes as no surprise, since the aircraft – nicknamed Albatross in India – are being replaced by Boeing P-8i aircraft.
India received eight Tu-142s from Soviet hands back in 1988. The Tu-142 is basically a navalized and lengthened variant of the famous Russian Tu-95 Bear bomber. Only three have remained in Indian service over recent years. On 29 March, the curtains also falls for these three aircraft.
India has ordered 12 fare more advanced Boeing P-8i Poseidons. The Tu-142 farewell fits perfectly into the modernisation efforts by the Indian Navy, which is also seeking 57 new multirole fighter jets for operations on board its current and future aircraft carriers.
The famous Monino aviation museum in Moscow may very well close its doors in the not-too-distant future and see parts of its unique collection of aircraft scrapped. A small number of airplanes could move to Kubinka airbase as part of the new ‘Patriot’ museum.
East of Moscow, Monino offers a fascinating collection of MiGs, Sukhois, Yakovlevs, Ilyuhsins and Tupolevs, many of them prototypes, early production models or otherwise rare aircraft. The museum is unique in every aspect, its number of exhibits not in the least. Many dozens of aircraft are on display.
Moscow ordered the building of the new ‘Patriot’ museum near Kubinka airbase to the west of Moscow. The base is home to Russian Air Force flight testing. Construction for the new museum started in 2014, and the location is now ready for items to be displayed. These should include a number of aircraft from Monino, with the remainder at Monino possibly to be scrapped.
Many aircraft at Monino, especially the larger ones, are deemed unfit for any kind of transportation as they would likely fall apart in the process. The Monino museum has been short on funds for maintenance for years.
UPDATED 20 November | For the first time the Russian strategic bomber fleet has been waging war in modern combat, launching long-range air strikes against targets / areas in Syria last night.
UPDATE | More footage has appeared of Russian bombers launching cruise missiles or dropping bombs, some of them under the watchful eye of -rather surprisingly – Iranian F-14 Tomcats. See here.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defence the attack fleet last night included 5 Tupolev Tu-160 “Blackjack”, 6 Tu-95MS “Bear”, 14 Tupolev Tu-22M3s “Backfire, 8 Sukhoi Su-34 “Fullback” and 4 Sukhoi Su-27SM “Flanker” all flying in from land-bases in Russia with flights lasting 4 hours and several thousands of miles. With at least the fighter aircraft probably supported by IL-78 “Midas” tanker aircraft.
Sources in Western capitals have acknowledged their governments were informed far ahead of the Russian operations this time, which included the launch of 34 cruise missiles. The attacks were concentrated on the Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor areas, as well as Aleppo and Idlib. The Russian planned 127 sorties against 206 targets, with 82 sorties against 140 objectives done. Syrian troops are said to have started a ground offensive about 15 to 25 miles from Idlib.
Part of the Russian Expeditionary Wing based at an Syrian military airbase near Latakia (Khmeymim) also went airborne. The wing now consists of eight fighter-bombers (4 Sukhoi Su-30SMs, 4 Sukhoi Su-34s), 12 strike/bombers of the Sukhoi Su-24M “Fencer” type, 12 close-air support and attack aircraft of the Sukhoi Su-25SM “Frogfoot” type, a dozen Mil Mi-24 “Hind” attack helicopters and 4 Mil Mi-8 “Hip” assault helicopters.
25 extra long-range aircraft
Moscow plans to augment the wing for now with 25 extra long-range aircraft (likely bombers and tanker aircraft), eight Su-34s and four Su-27SMs all operating from land-bases within the Russian Federation on lengthy strike missions to Syria against forces such as ISIL/Daesh.
Apart from Russia, French warcraft bombed targets they say are from ISIL/Daesh as well during the same night in Northern Syria, in what could may have been jointly co-ordinated attacks. France is stepping up its military operations in the area after ISIL has claimed responsibility of the terror attacks in Paris during the weekend. The attacks claimed the lives of at least 129 people. The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle – with on board Rafale multi-role fighters – is steaming towards the Eastern Mediterranean.
During the political week of Sweden in July, when all politicians of all parties are together in Visby on the island of Gotland, two Russian bombers executed a simulated attack on the major Swedish naval base of Karlskrona and performed a narrow fly-by of Gotland. “This kind of behaviour is very aggressive,” Swedish quality newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) quotes a Swedish intelligence officer on 1 November 2015.
According to DN, new information shows that two Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire strategic bombers went straight for Karlskrona on 4 July 2015, after taking off from an airbase in the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. Apparently the Russian bombers changed course only 15 to 30 seconds before entering Swedish airspace. They seemed to ingore the two Royal Danish Air Force F-16s and two Swedish Air Force JAS 39C Gripen jets scrambled to intercept.
The Backfires then headed north to Gotland and passed the strategic island just east of its territorial airspace, while practically all Swedish politicians were on it for the final days of the yearly main political event. The earlier released official statement of the Swedish Ministry of Defence on the incident did not include all these details.
Both Sweden and Finland have been strengthening their cooperation with NATO, causing both political and military protests from Moscow. While a full membership of the military alliance has not been asked for, the government in Finland recently ordered a quick investigation into the pros and cons of NATO membership to make a more fundamental decision on to join or not to join in 2016.
Sweden so far doesn’t go for full NATO membership, but more and more Swedish politicians are advocating in favour of joining while Russia is – in their eyes – acting more and more aggressively towards the Scandinavian nations.
Russia is to restart production of the Tu-160 Blackjack long range strategic bomber in 2023, Russian press agency TASS reported on 17 July following a statement from deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov. Moscow earlier this year stated it intended to restart production, with factory equipment already being sought.
The newly built Tu-160s will be of the modernized M2 variant. The current fleet of 15 Blackjacks is now in the process of being updated, with the final aircraft expected to be ready in 2019. The Tu-160 is very similar to the US Rockwell B-1B Lancer.
Meanwhile, development of the next generation strategic bomber – known as PAK DA – is to be slow downed. This indicates Russia feels the need for a more immediate strengthening of its bomber fleet, instead of relying on a new design that will remain under development for many more years to come.