Navy to decommission spy plane by month end

Navy to decommission spy plane by month end

Indian Navy is set to decommission its Tu-142M maritime reconnaissance aircraft by March end.

For close to 30 years, India used these Russian-origin reconnaissance planes, also known as Albatross, to watch the maritime traffic in the Indian Ocean region.

After taking off from their base at Arakkonam, these planes flew all over the high seas to keep an eye on the vessels passing through the blue waters. The vigil came particularly handy during the anti-piracy operations in the recent years.

However, as the technology was getting old, the navy was retiring these planes one by one in the absence of any mid-life upgrade. “Out of eight aircraft, the navy is now left with only three, which would be decommissioned by the end of this month,” said a source.

Two proposals to upgrade these platforms did not materialise because of the high project cost. The government later purchased eight US-origin P8I aircraft from Boeing for long-range maritime surveillance at a cost of $2.1 billion. Last year, a second contract was signed with Boeing to buy four more aircraft at a cost of $1 billion.

The naval aviation squadron (INAS 312) flying the big birds was re-commissioned with the Tupolev 142M aircraft in 1988. When the squadron was celebrating its silver jubilee in 2013, it was found that the squadron flew over 28,000 hours without even a minor accident.

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