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Tupolev Tu-142

Long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft

Tu-142 maritime patrol aircraft

The Tu-142 was designed primarily to detect and destroy US ballistic missile submarines

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1972
Crew 11 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 51.55 m
Wing span 50.2 m
Height 14.7 m
Weight (empty) 93.89 t
Weight (maximum take off) 185 t
Engines and performance
Engines 4 x KKBM (Kuznetsov) NK-12MV turboprops
Engine power 4 x 15 000 hp
Maximum speed 855 - 875 km/h
Cruising speed 730 km/h
Service ceiling 12 - 13.5 km
Range 11 500 km
Combat radius 5 200 km
Armament
Cannon 2 x 23 mm twin-barrel cannons
Missiles 8 x Kh-35 anti-ship cruise missiles (only on some improved aircraft)
Other 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 Bear-F. It 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 in 1994. 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 communication aircraft. 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 detection systems. 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.

   This maritime patrol aircraft is powered by four NK-12MV turboprop engines, developing 15 000 hp each and fitted with counter-rotating propellers. The 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.

 

Variants

 

   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 1990s.

   Tu-142M is 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 1990s.

   Tu-142MP is a sole prototype, built to test anti-submarine weapons.

   Tu-142MR 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.

   Tu-142MRM is a planned upgrade of surviving Tu-142MR aircraft in order to extend their operational service. This version was first mentioned in 2014.

   Tu-142MRC 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.

   Tu-142MK (Western reporting name Bear-F Mod.3) is one of the most numerous anti-submarine warfare variant.

   Tu-142ME, 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 Kh-35 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.

   Tu-142MZ (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. The last aircraft of this type was completed in 1994. There were plans to equip these aircraft with Kh-35 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.

 

 

 
Tupolev Tu-142

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Tupolev Tu-142

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Tupolev Tu-142

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Tupolev Tu-142

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Tupolev Tu-142

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Tupolev Tu-142

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Tupolev Tu-142

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Indian Tu-142ME or Tu-142MK-E

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Indian Tu-142ME or Tu-142MK-E

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Indian Tu-142ME or Tu-142MK-E

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Indian Tu-142ME or Tu-142MK-E

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Tupolev Tu-142

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