DELIVERY OF the first series production upgraded Il-38N anti-submarine aircraft by Ilyushin Aviation Complex back to the Russian Navy took place on July 15 in a ceremony at Zhukovsky. The aircraft was then flown out on the same day to its base at Yeysk.
A distinctive external feature which immediately identifies upgraded aircraft is the distinctive box-shaped sensor housing mounted above the cockpit for the new Leninets Novella P-38 search and track targeting system. The system is a more advanced version of the Sea Dragon that was installed as part of an upgrade to the Indian Navy’s Il-38s, giving them the same distinctive appearance.
An initial prototype conversions was put into service with the Northern Fleet in March 2012, following which a 3.5 billion ruble ($97.8 million) production contract was awarded to Ilyushin by the Russian Ministry of Defence on May 25, 2012. This covers upgrade of five Il-38s to Il-38N standard. However, Ilyushin has previously stated that the Russian Navy wants to upgrade an eventual total of 28 Il-38s to Il-38N configuration by 2020. Alan Warnes