Indian Navy Bids Farewell to Il-38SD Maritime Reconnaissance Plane After 46 Years

In a significant milestone for the Indian Navy, the last operational Ilyushin Il-38SD Sea Dragon Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft was officially decommissioned on Tuesday, marking the culmination of a remarkable 46-year service tenure. The retirement of these venerable aircraft symbolizes a pivotal moment in the history of the Indian Navy’s maritime reconnaissance capabilities.

During the solemn “drawdown ceremony” of the Ilyushin Il-38SD Sea Dragon Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft at INS Hansa, located in the vicinity of Vasco town, approximately 35 kilometers from Panaji, the capital of Goa, Admiral R Hari Kumar, the distinguished Chief of the Navy, was present to preside over the event. In his address, Admiral Kumar eloquently characterized the occasion as “truly historic” and imbued with a profound sense of nostalgia.

In his address at the retirement ceremony, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar passionately conveyed that the Ilyushin Il-38SD Sea Dragon aircraft had consistently brought honor and glory to the Indian Navy on numerous occasions. These venerable aircraft had demonstrated their mettle and service excellence repeatedly, solidifying their status as icons in the Indian Navy’s proud history.

The final Il-38SD aircraft, which was officially decommissioned on Tuesday, is set to find its new home at the Naval Aviation Museum located in Dabolim. This esteemed museum, known for its captivating exhibits, will provide a fitting resting place for the retired aircraft. Notably, the museum had already welcomed a similar aircraft to its collection in March 2020, marking the significance of preserving these iconic assets for posterity.

In a poignant and dignified ceremony held on Tuesday, the Il-38SD aircraft made its last landing, effectively concluding the deinduction process from active service. This symbolic landing marked the aircraft’s final voyage and its official retirement from operational duty. As a heartfelt mark of respect for its illustrious service history, the aircraft was honored with a water cannon salute.

On the 26th of January this year, the Il-38SD participated in the Republic Day Parade flypast, a momentous occasion as it marked both its inaugural and final appearance in this prestigious event. The aircraft’s participation in the Republic Day Parade flypast held great significance, serving as a poignant and historic moment in the aircraft’s extensive service history.

The operation of the Il-38SD aircraft was overseen by the Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 315, aptly known as the “Winged Stallion.” This distinguished squadron played a pivotal role in managing and deploying these maritime reconnaissance aircraft throughout their service tenure.

The Il-38SD aircraft were initially inducted into the Indian Navy’s service in 1977, marking the commencement of their vital role in safeguarding India’s maritime interests. Over the course of six years, from 1977 to 1983, a total of five such aircraft were procured and incorporated into the Indian Navy’s fleet. These aircraft, under the proficient management of INAS 315, played a crucial part in enhancing the Navy’s maritime surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

In a tragic incident that occurred in October 2002, the Indian Navy experienced the loss of two aircraft due to a mid-air collision that transpired above INS Hansa in Goa. This unfortunate event resulted in the loss of valuable assets and personnel, marking a somber moment in the history of the Indian Navy’s aviation operations.

Following this setback, the Indian Navy took steps to bolster its maritime reconnaissance capabilities. In December 2009 and February 2010, the Navy acquired two ex-Russian Navy Il-38SD aircraft. These acquisitions were pivotal in replenishing the squadron’s resources and reaffirming its commitment to maintaining robust maritime reconnaissance capabilities.

At INS Hansa, the retirement of the Ilyushin Il-38SD Sea Dragon aircraft is accompanied by a transition to the technologically advanced Boeing P-8I Neptune aircraft. These state-of-the-art maritime reconnaissance aircraft have been introduced to replace the outgoing Sea Dragons. The Indian Navy’s commitment to modernization and enhanced surveillance capabilities is evident in this strategic transition.

Since December 2021, four Boeing P-8I Neptune aircraft have been delivered to the Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 316, known as “The Condors.” This delivery marks a significant step in the transition to the new aircraft, equipped with advanced surveillance and reconnaissance technologies that will bolster India’s maritime security and surveillance efforts.

On March 29, 2022, the new unit, INAS 316, officially commissioned the Boeing P-8I Neptune aircraft into its operational fleet. This commissioning is a clear reflection of the Indian Navy’s dedication to maintaining a robust presence in the maritime domain and its commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements in maritime reconnaissance. The Boeing P-8I Neptune is poised to play a vital role in safeguarding India’s maritime interests and sovereignty in the evolving maritime landscape.

The induction of the Ilyushin Il-38SD Sea Dragon aircraft marked a significant milestone for the Indian Navy, as it acquired modern maritime reconnaissance capabilities along with a fixed-wing Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability. These aircraft were pivotal in enhancing the Navy’s maritime security and surveillance capabilities, bolstering its readiness to address potential threats in the maritime domain.

In a remarkable demonstration of its capabilities, the squadron’s aircraft, equipped with onboard Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) equipment, achieved a significant milestone in January 1978. They successfully located the wreckage of the ill-fated Air India aircraft, which had tragically crashed shortly after take-off off the Mumbai coast.

The Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 315, affectionately known as the “Winged Stallions,” achieved a remarkable milestone in 1996 when they celebrated 25,000 hours of accident-free flying. This accomplishment exemplified the squadron’s unwavering dedication to safety and operational excellence.

Niyati Rao

Niyati Rao is a seasoned writer and avid consumer who specializes in crafting informative and engaging articles and product reviews. With a passion for research and a knack for finding the best deals, Niyati enjoys helping readers make informed decisions about their purchases.