Country of origin
Dimensions and weight
Weight (maximum take off)
Engines and performance
4 x KKBM (Kuznetsov) NK-12MV turboprops
4 x 15 000 hp
855 - 875 km/h
12 - 13.5 km
11 500 km
5 200 km
2 x 23 mm twin-barrel cannons
8 x Kh-35 anti-ship cruise missiles (only on
some improved aircraft)
anti-submarine torpedoes, depth charges, mines
The Tupolev Tu-142 is a maritime
patrol version of the
Tu-95 strategic bomber. It was actually based on the Tu-95RC maritime
reconnaissance aircraft. The Tu-142 is known in the West as the
was designed primarily for anti-submarine warfare and a variety of
other naval roles. Development commenced in 1963. The Tu-142 was
intended to counter the threat posed by the new US ballistic missile
submarines, that carried Polaris nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.
By the early 1960s US Navy already had a small fleet of George
Washington and Ethan Allen class ballistic missile boats and was
rapidly commissioning new larger and improved Lafayette clas boats.
These US boats were hiding in the oceans and could launch their
nuclear missiles against strategic Soviet targets. The Tu-142
aircraft was designed to find these US ballistic missile boats on
their deterrence patrols. However it was a tough task, as back in
the 1960s and 1970s Soviet submarine detection equipment was rather
poor. The new Tu-142 was created by using an existing Tu-95 airframe
and fitting it with sensors from
Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft. The type made its first flight
in 1968. Mass production commenced during the same year, though the
type was still tested and improved until 1972. The Tu-142 was
officially adopted in 1972. This maritime patrol aircraft was
produced in a number of versions.
It was constantly improved throughout its production run as new
improvements and refinements were constantly introduced. Around
100 of the Tu-142 series aircraft were built, including variants, when production ceased
By 2018 the type was still active.
Originally a total of 49 examples equipped a Soviet naval aviation regiment at Kipelovo, assigned to the Northern Fleet
and 24 examples equipped another regiment at Kamenniy Ruchey,
assigned to the Pacific Fleet. During 2000s condition of Russia's
Tu-142s was poor and availability rate was low. Eventually these
aviation regiments were re-organized and number of operational
aircraft was reduced to 16 units. A total of 8 aircraft remained in
service in the Northern Fleet and 8 aircraft in Pacific fleet. The major anti-submarine
warfare variants are the Tu-142MK (Western reporting name Bear-F
Mod.3) and improved Tu-142MZ (Bear-F Mod.4), the last of which was
completed in 1994. By 2018 only 12 Tu-142MK/MZ maritime patrol
aircraft reportedly remained in service, plus another 10 Tu-142MR
Even though this aircraft is
very old, Russia has got no proper replacement for this aircraft. So the Tu-142
remains an improtant type. Russia's Naval Aviation also operates a
smaller Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft for shorter-range role.
Surviving Tu-142 airframes are likely to be upgraded with new
radars, sonobuoys, new surveillance systems and magnetic anomaly
The only Tu-142 export operator is the Indian Navy which obtained
seven Tu-142 MK-Es. Though recently India obtained a number of new
Boeing P-8I Neptune long-range maritime patrol aircraft (Indian
Navy's version of the
P-8 Poseidon). It is a modern and much more capable aircraft.
This maritime patrol
aircraft is operated by a crew of 11 men. It can be used for
anti-submarine warfare, anti-shipping, reconnaissance, electronic
intelligence, search and rescue, and other roles.
The Tu-142 is equipped with various search sensors, including a
search radar and sonobuoys.
The original sensors were carried over from the Il-38 maritime patrol
aircraft, though some of the elements were newly developed.
Eventually improved versions of the Tu-142 were fitted with more
capable sensors. Magnetic anomaly detection system was added on an
improved Tu-142M version.
maritime patrol aircraft is powered by four NK-12MV turboprop engines,
developing 15 000 hp each and fitted with counter-rotating
Tu-142 has an impressive range of 11 500 km.
This aircraft carries 83.9 t of onboard fuel. Furthermore it is
fitted with in-flight refueling probe, which might further extend
its range. Still though this maritime patrol aircraft could reach US
shores without in-flight refueling.
Russian Naval Aviation also operates the smaller Il-38 maritime
patrol aircraft for shorter-range role. The Il-38 is another ageing
machine, which was adopted back in 1968. Russia currently has got no
suitable replacement for these ageing types.
The Tupolev Tu-142 inherited two large weapon bays of the Tu-95
bomber. This maritime patrol aircraft can carry a whooping 11 340 kg
of ordnance, including anti-submarine
torpedoes, depth charges and mines.
For self-defense this aircraft is fitted with two 23 mm twin-barrel
cannons at the rear.
Tu-142 is an initial production model. It was adopted in 1972. These
original aircraft had rear undercarriage with 12 wheels per side. These
original production aircraft were retired and scrapped in the early
an improved version, designed since 1969 to meet requirements of the
Soviet government. Original Berkut submarine detection equipment was
performing poorly. The improved Tu-142M was fitted with new Korshun
submarine detection equipment, which featured new sonobuoys. Also
this aircraft was fitted with magnetic anomaly detection system.
Rear undercarriage was replaced and had 8 wheels per side. All
of the Tu-142Ms were reportedly retired and scrapped in the early
a sole prototype, built to test anti-submarine weapons.
Orel (eagle) (Western reporting name Bear-J) is a command
post/communications relay platform for communicating with submerged
ballistic missile submarines. This plane was specially designed for
an event of nuclear war. This doomsday plane acts as a communication
relay between naval headquarters and ballistic missile submarines.
Interestingly this aircraft can communicate with submarines while
being stationary on its airbase. The Tu-142MR was developed in 1977
and was based on a Tu-142M airframe. It has a crew of 9. Trials of
this aircraft were completed in 1980 and it was adopted by the
Soviet Naval Aviation. A small number of these aircraft were built
and it is still operational.
a planned upgrade of surviving Tu-142MR aircraft in order to extend
their operational service. This version was first mentioned in 2014.
was a sole prototype surveillance and targeting aircraft. It was
designed to aim anti-ship cruise missiles. It was built in the early
1990s and was originally intended to replace the Tu-95RC. However by
that time satellites were used for that role. So development of the
Tu-142MRC was cancelled.
(Western reporting name Bear-F Mod.3) is one of the most numerous
anti-submarine warfare variant.
also referred as Tu-142MK-E,
is a downgraded export version of the Tu-142MK. It is broadly
similar to the Tu-142MK, but has certain
downgraded systems. Some modifications were made in order to adapt
this aircraft for tropical climate. This aircraft has been exported to India.
It was officially adopted by the Indian Navy in 1988. The
Indian Navy obtained 8 of these aircraft and operated them ad Arrakonam.
During their operational service Indian aircraft were upgraded with
new systems and had a capability to carry
anti-ship cruise missiles for an extended anti-shipping role.
Aircraft can carry 8 of these anti-ship missiles.
Recently India obtained a number of new Boeing P-8I Neptune
long-range maritime patrol aircraft (Indian Navy's version of the
P-8 Poseidon). It is a modern and much more capable maritime
patrol aircraft. The Indian Tu-142s were retired in 2017 after 29
years of service.
(Western reporting name Bear-F Mod.4) is an improved version of the
Ty-142MK. It is another major anti-submarine warfare variant, fitted
with new submarine detection equipment. This aircraft is fitted with
slightly improved NK-12MP engines. The rear defensive system with
cannons was replaced by a more modern one. It is operated by a crew
of 10. This aircraft was adopted in 1985.
last aircraft of this type was completed in 1994. There were plans
to equip these aircraft with
anti-ship cruise missiles for an extended anti-shipping role, though
these plans were never implemented.
Tu-142MZM is a planned upgrade of the surviving Tu-142MZ aircraft in
order to improve their operational capabilities and keep them in
service for the years to come. There were plans to upgrade all
operational Russia's Tu-142MZs to this new standard by 2020.