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Design of New Russian Maritime Patrol Aircraft Nearing Completion

The United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) continues fulfilling the contract with the Russian Defense Ministry to upgrade antisubmarine warfare Il-38 aircraft. They are operational in the Russian naval aviation. The Ilyushin Company is extending the life cycle of remaining aircraft and equipping them with modern onboard complexes. The aircraft are engaged both in defense and rescue operations. In the meantime, the Russian Navy plans to order a new-generation antisubmarine patrol aircraft. Its design for the naval aviation is nearing completion, the UAC said.

Il 38N MPA of the Russian Navy. Picture by Paul ShumiloA Il-38N MPA of the Russian Navy. Picture by Paul Shumilo

Il-38 has marked the 35th anniversary of the maiden flight. Head of the naval aviation, Hero of Russia Major-General Igor Kozhin said the aircraft in its initial concept "has worthily fulfilled the missions to search for and detect underwater targets and to protect the national sea borders." He believes the aerodynamics of the aircraft are so good that it is hardly possible to design something better.

At present, the Ilyushin is upgrading the aircraft. "The latest Novella complex is mounted on modernized Il-38 to increase searching efficiency and detection of submarines four times," Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir Korolev said in February 2017.

The naval aviation is developing synchronously with other navy components. The potential of Il-38N is much broader. Korolev said "the upgraded antisubmarine aircraft received the Novella radio-electronic complex which increases the efficiency of the search and detection of submarines. It also has reconnaissance and targeting capabilities. Due to the new search and targeting system the aircraft can find and destroy submarines with a wider range of arms against the basic Il-38," Korolev said.

Il 114MP MPA Russia ASWArtist impression of Il-114 MPA. Screencapture from Radio MMS video.

In January 2017 Kozhin said the Russian naval aviation will receive close to 30 upgraded Il-38N. The delivery of all of them has to be completed not later than 2025.
"We are saying that morally outdated aircraft are becoming modern due to modernization. They help implement the tasks, which the Russian president set before us, in particular, to reach a 70-percent share of new naval aircraft. Despite major age, the modernized Il-38 will rise to a new quality level. Our partners will be surprised to see the capabilities which will be soon demonstrated by upgraded aircraft," he said.

"The naval aviation enters its second century by actively upgrading the hardware and combat skills. Naval pilots are capable of accomplishing most complicated missions in all latitudes of the world ocean," Kozhin said.

In the meantime, a new aircraft is being designed to replace the upgraded Il-38 in future. "The work to create antisubmarine patrol aircraft of a new generation for the Russian naval aviation is nearing completion," Kozhin said.

Radio MMS video

He was referring to a new uniform platform. It is a modern craft which will surpass foreign analogues in many aspects. The design will replace all available naval patrol aircraft.

Expert Vladimir Karnozov said Il-114 will be a proper replacement for the Il-18 family which is still operational in the Russian armed forces. "Naval patrol Il-114 can be equipped with Novella which does not demand major retraining of pilots and technicians. Its flight and technical characteristics which are close and sometimes superior to those of Il-38 allow engaging new tactical means of searching and destroying adversary submarines accumulated by Il-38N crews," he said.

In the 1970s, India acquired several Il-38. In February 2017, the Indian Navy confirmed at the Aero India 2017 aerospace show it wants to extend the life cycle of all available Il-38SD. "We liked the attitude of Indian military officials and their interest in antisubmarine aviation," Ilyushin Designer General Nikolai Talikov said. "They asked their Russian interlocutors whether it was possible to create a modern aircraft with enhanced antisubmarine capabilities," he added.

Two-engine turbofan Il-114-300 was offered to replace Il-38 as a platform for the design of new-generation antisubmarine aircraft. It was reported at Aero India-2017 that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) plans to produce both civilian and military Il-114 in the framework of the Make in India program. The parties considered how HAL and other Indian companies can supply components and parts to complete new Il-114 construction in Russia, the UAC said.

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