The Naval Aviation Museum at Goa, that showcases the rich history of Indian Naval Aviation has found a new aerial platform for display that has surprised many after it was initially sported in satellite images later revealed by Senior Naval officers at Goa, Indian Navy’s Ilyushin Il-38-IN305 airframe has been quietly retired while the fleet type remains active, but for how long is the question.

Soviet-Era Ilyush 38 Sea Dragon (IL-38 SD) Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft are operated from the Naval base in Goa that falls under the Western Naval Command. IL-38 was first inducted from 1977 onwards and six aircraft were procured till 1983. In 2002, the Navy lost IN302 and IN304 in a mid-air collision above the Dabolim airport in Goa.

Retirement of IN305 means that the Original fleet strength of the Ilyushin Il-38 is now down to just three and IN306 while in Russia for overhaul had suffered a collapsed landing and later was repaired but it is still not clear if it is back in service. Naval Base in Goa has started receiving P-8I Multimission Maritime Aircraft from Boeing from this year and it is expected that when all four are delivered to the Western Naval Command this might be the end of the remaining Il-38 fleet.

Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in 2019 approved the procurement of six additional P-8I aircraft, over 8+4 already ordered for the Indian Navy. India also plans to develop an Indigenous Multimission Maritime Aircraft Senior suite based on the C295 platform in the future.

Ilyushin Il-38 based on Ilyushin Il-18 turboprop transport aircraft was modified to detect and intercept surface vessels and submarines by the Ilyushin Aviation Complex. The first aerodynamic prototype of the Il-38 completed its maiden flight in September 1961.

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