The Russia's Northern Fleet pilots will undertake retraining programme in 2014 to master the Russian Navy's modernised Ilyushin Il-38N anti-submarine aircraft, a military official told journalists.
RIA Novosti cited a Northern Fleet representative, captain first rank Vadim Serga, as saying that the first crew has begun the practical flight training following completion of the theoretical part of the programme.
"The plane has been enhanced with new-generation detachable hydroacoustic and magnetic beacons that surpass their Western counterparts in a range of ways," Serga said.
The modernised Ilyushin Il-38N aircraft features a wider range of combat capabilities and supports electronic intelligence (ELINT) duties, including mapping magnetic and gravitational fields of the Arctic Ocean, scientific oceanographic research and underwater and air reconnaissance missions, Serga added.
The Il-38N's anti-submarine system has been replaced with the Novella sensor system, which is capable of detecting targets within a 320km radius of the aircraft, as well as radar observation of underwater, surface and airborne targets.
The Novella system includes a digital computer manned by two operators, a new high-resolution thermal imaging system, a magnetic anomaly detection system, an optical detection system, gravitational anomaly detector and other equipment.
The upgraded sensor suite is also capable of detecting air targets at a distance of 90km away and simultaneously tracking up to 32 targets.
Ilyushin Aviation Complex-built aircraft features several sub-systems, including a search-and-rescue and ecological monitoring, an electronic support measures and a sea and land surface surveillance system.
Based on the Il-18 aircraft design, the Ilyushin Il-38 can fly at a maximum speed of 650km/h with a service ceiling of 10,000m, range of 9,500km and has a maximum take-off weight of 63,500kg.