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Dabolim, Goa, known for its pristine beaches and lush landscapes, is also home to a hidden gem that attracts history enthusiasts and aviation aficionados alike – the Naval Aviation Museum. Situated adjacent to the INS Hansa Naval base, this museum is set to become even more captivating as it prepares to welcome a new addition, the second vintage Ilyushin 38SD Sea Dragon.

This intriguing aircraft, recently retired from operational service, will soon find its place of honor among the exhibits at the Naval Aviation Museum in Dabolim. It’s a significant milestone for the museum, which had previously added a similar vintage aircraft to its collection in March 2020.

The soon-to-be-displayed Sea Dragon, with the serial number IN306, will join its predecessor, IN305, coded as DAB. These aircraft carry a rich history that is intertwined with the Indian Navy’s aviation legacy.

The Il-38SD, which is affectionately known as the Sea Dragon, was first introduced into the Indian Navy’s service in 1977, and the acquisition continued until 1983, with a total of five of these remarkable aircraft being procured. These aircraft played a vital role in maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare missions.

However, the Sea Dragon’s journey was not without its challenges. In October 2002, the Indian Navy faced a tragic incident when two Sea Dragons, IN302 and IN304, were involved in a mid-air collision above the Dabolim airport in Goa, resulting in the loss of both aircraft.

To bolster the fleet, two ex-Russian Navy Il-38s, coded as IN306 and IN307, were incorporated into the squadron in December 2009 and February 2010, respectively.

These Sea Dragons, with their iconic appearance and historical significance, are a testament to the dedication and valor of the Indian Navy’s aviation personnel. By preserving and showcasing them at the Naval Aviation Museum in Dabolim, future generations will have the opportunity to learn about the rich maritime heritage of India.

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