The Tu-142M (Mar­itime) is a de­riv­a­tive of the fa­mous dreaded Soviet Tu-95 nu­clear strate­gic bomber (NATO code-name Bear)

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named ‘Al­ba­tross’ painted grey with IN-313 writ­ten across it, ap­proached the In­dia Gate and its four en­gines roared over head flying all the way from Arakkonam. The plane has an all up max­i­mum weight of 160 tonnes when it is loaded with 87 tonnes of fuel for long range sor­ties. If a Tu-142 has to sud­denly land it has to ditch fuel and re­duce weight to around 120 tonnes for safety or the fuse­lage may crack in a hard land­ing.

The Tu-142M (Mar­itime) is a de­riv­a­tive of the fa­mous dreaded Soviet Tu-95 nu­clear strate­gic bomber ( NATO code-name Bear) and each Tu142 has a flight crew of 10 TO 12 per­son­nel, which in­cludes the Com­man­der, Co-Pilot, Flight En­gi­neer, Sig­naller and the aft Gun­ner and five per­son­nel that ex­e­cute nav­i­ga­tion and ob­server du­ties and con­trol the weapons and sen­sors. A se­nior Ob­server (des­ig­nated Nav­i­ga­tor in the Air Force) co­or­di­nates the en­tire air­borne ASW/Ship Search phase of the mis­sion and can also give co­or­di­nates to ships for long range mis­sile fir­ings, keep­ing out of the tar­get ship’s AA mis­sile and gun range. The plane has an op­er­a­tional burst speed of 925 kmph, a lower cruising speed and a ceil­ing of 40,000 ft and a range of 12,550 km when two crew when full fuel is em­barked for 16 hours en­durance and has rest­ing and toi­let fa­cil­i­ties and a mini gal­ley.

The Tu-142Ms were fit­ted with the Kor­shun-K au­to­matic search and sight­ing sys­tem and MMS106 Ladoga mag­ne­tome­ter to de­tect low-noise un­der water nu­clear sub­marines, with their NPK-142M nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem and a range of RGB sonobuoys. The ar­ma­ment can in­clude a max­i­mum of 12 tor­pe­does, FAB-250kg free fall bombs and depth charges up to a max­i­mum pay load of 20 tonnes.

The de­com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony was at­tended by Ad­mi­ral Su­nil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Ad­mi­ral HCS Bisht, Flag Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing-in-Chief, East­ern Naval Com­mand, and serv­ing and many re­tired of­fi­cers and men, who had served on the Tu-142s and se­nior of­fi­cials from the Tamil Nadu civil ad­min­is­tra­tion. Re­tired Cdr V C Pandey at Riga was present.

Pandey was in­tro­duced to serv­ing of­fi­cers as the of­fi­cer who had flown Sea­hawk fight­ers and Al­izes ASW planes from INS Vikrant’s deck (1970-75), and was in the com­mis­sion­ing crew of IL-38s in 1983. Later he com­manded the IL38 squadron and he re­called how he flew the first Tu-142s as the lead plane from USSR and was the first In­dian ser­vice plane to make a long

(RIGHT) A farewell gift to the last CO as CNS Ad­mi­ral Su­nil Lanba ap­plauds

(BE­LOW) Andhra Pradesh Chief Min­is­ter N Chan­drababu Naidu with Union Min­is­ter P Ashok Ga­jap­athi Raju along with East­ern Naval Com­mand Flag Of­fi­cer Com­mandin­gin-Chief HCS Bisht re­ceive the Tu-142M at INS Dega, Vishakha­p­at­nam

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