The Indian Navy has retired the last of its Ilyushin Il-38 ‘Sea Dragon’ maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) after more than four decades in service.

The deactivation of India’s last Il-38s took place at INS Hansa near Goa on October 31, according to the country’s Defense Ministry.

“With its unique capabilities, striking power and extended range covering the vast Indian Ocean region, the Il-38 SD has proven over the years to be a formidable force multiplier,” the ministry says.

The model has been in service with the Indian Navy since 1977, serving with 315 Sqn.

The Cold War-era Il-38 entered service in the Soviet Union in 1967 and is a derivative of the Il-18 airliner. Powered by four Ivchenko Progress AI-20M turboprops, it carries weapons and sensors compatible with long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions.

Cirium fleet data indicates that New Delhi operated four Il-38s before their retirement.

The departure of India’s Il-38s follows the departure of its MPA-role Tupolev Tu-142ME “Albatross” aircraft in 2017.

India’s long-range ASW/MPA role is now performed by the Boeing P-8I Neptune, of which 12 examples are in service.

Cirium fleet data suggests that Russia is the only remaining operator of the Il-38, with 21 examples in service in the country’s navyRussia is also listed as having five aircraft in storage.

Greg Waldron