Once considered as the backbone of Indian navy’s Maritime Reconnaissance, the IL 38 SD (Sea Dragon) aircraft is set to make its first and last Republic Day Fly past tomorrow.
Known as Winged Stallions, the IL-38 SD is the last of the legacy fleet and will be phased out before 2023 ends. This aircraft is the long range surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft which had proven its mettle in 1978, when it was able to trace the wreckage of Air India jumbo. This aircraft was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1977 and now it’s time for it to be decommissioned.
For the first and the last time this aircraft will fly over the Kartavya Path on Thursday (Jan 26, 2023). According to officials this is one of the oldest surveillance aircraft in the inventory of the Indian Navy and whose role has been taken over by the P8is which have been manufactured by the American aerospace giant Boeing Company.
Financial Express Online has already reported that during this year’s celebrations the flypast will have 44 other aircraft including nine newly inducted Rafale fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Background of the Sea Dragons
After completing more than four decades plus years of service to the nation, last January, IN 301, the first IL 38SD (Sea Dragons) aircraft was decommissioned and it remained in a serviceable condition till the last day of its operational life.
The aircraft belongs to INAS 315 squadron and was commissioned in October 1977 by the then Rear Admiral MK Roy, and Commander BK Malik had commanded it. There were three IL-38 in the squadron and later another two were inducted and these aircraft were used by the Indian Navy for maritime reconnaissance. This aircraft also provided the Indian Navy with fixed-wing Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability.
What does it mean?
Once these aircraft were inducted they helped the Indian Navy move into the area of electronic signal intelligence, distant search and rescue missions, anti-shipping strike, airborne long-range and maritime reconnaissance capabilities combined with long-range anti-submarine search and strike.
And in January 1978 the aircraft was used for a major operation to locate the wreckage of the Air India jumbo. This aircraft used on board Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) equipment to locate the wreckage of the Air India plane which crashed soon after it took off from the Mumbai coast.
According to reports in 1996 the Winged Stallions completed 25,000 hours of accident-free flying. In 2002 tragedy struck when the squadron was celebrating its silver jubilee and its accident free completion of 30,000 hours of flying. There was a mid-air collision of two IL-78s in which 17 personnel were killed.