The Tu-142M is a long-range anti-submarine / reconnaissance aircraft designed by the Tupolev Design Bureau and manufactured by the Kuibyshev Aviation and Taganrog Machinery plants. The aircraft is developed to provide improved naval combat capabilities. It can be deployed primarily in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations, maritime reconnaissance and low-range patrol runs.
The aircraft is equipped with a set of anti-submarine weapons to protect territorial waters from potential enemy submarines. The aircraft have been in service with the Indian Navy’s 312nd squadron (INAS 312) since 1988 and are deployed in anti-submarine warfare and patrol missions across the Indian Ocean.
Tu-142M orders and deliveries
Tupolev Design Bureau received an executive order to design and develop the Tu-142 aircraft, which is based on the long-range Tu-95 turboprop strategic bomber. The prototype aircraft was built at Kuibyshev Aviation Plant and made its first flight in June 1968. The first aircraft entered trail operation with the Soviet Naval Aviation in May 1970 and was officially commissioned into service in December 1972.
The first modernised Tu-142M aircraft equipped with advanced avionics performed its maiden flight in 1985. Eight Tu-142Ms (IN-311 to IN-318) in export version (Tu-142ME) were built between 1987 and 1988 at the Taganrog Aviation Plant (now TAVIA) for the Indian Navy. The aircraft were commissioned in 1988.
In 2006 and 2007, two of the Tu-142M aircraft operated by the Indian Navy were upgraded by TAVIA, a division of Beriev Aircraft Company. Two more aircraft were retrofitted in July 2010.
The Indian Navy received seventh modernised Tu-142ME (IN 317) aircraft in August 2014.
Tu-142M design and features
The Tu-142M anti-submarine aircraft features monoplane, mid-wing design. It is fitted with a single-fin tail and tricycle landing gear with controlled front wheels. It features a monocoque fuselage, which has a length of 46.4m and a maximum diameter of 2.9m.
The fuselage incorporates a set of longitudinal stringers, cross-set of frames with stressed skin. Two cargo compartments are located at the lower part of the fuselage. The tail section is fitted with a rear cannon mounting. The nose cone section is installed with an in-flight refuelling system. A hatch is located in the niche of the front leg to facilitate emergency access.
The aircraft is roughly 49.5m in overall length, 12.12m high and has wing span of approximately 50m. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 185,000kg and is operated by a crew of 11, including flight crew and navigators / observers.
In June 2004, the US Navy announced the selection of the 737 MMA Boeing multi-mission maritime aircraft.
The aircraft is armed with a variety of defensive weapons such as Kh-35 anti-ship missile, self-guided missiles, twin AM-23 automatic cannon, depth charges and torpedoes.
Sensors on-board Tu-142M
The Tu-142M anti-submarine aircraft is equipped with DRDO HOMI airborne electronic support measures system to identify, locate and detect enemy targets. It incorporates Korshun-K integrated automatic search and targeting system and MMS-106 Ladoga magnetometer to detect nuclear-powered submarines.
The aircraft is also fitted with a Strela onboard communication system, a NPK-142M navigation system, a Sayany onboard defence system and a Nerchinsk hydrological defence system. The sonobuoys incorporated in the aircraft include RGB-15, RGB-25 and RGB-55A.
Engines and performance
The Tu-142M anti-submarine aircraft is powered by four NK-12M turboprop engines designed by the Kuznetsov Design Bureau. Each engine develops a power output of 15,000shp. The propulsion system also consists of four coaxial eight-bladed reversible-pitch propellers. The aircraft has a fuel capacity of 87,000kg.
The operational speed of the aircraft is 442mph, while the maximum speed is 574.76mph at high altitudes. The operating range of 3,977mi and the maximum range is 7,953.55mi. The service ceiling of the aircraft is 39,000ft.