Tu-142 antisubmarine aircraft to partner with drones

Forpost drones and Altius in future will provide guidance for antisubmarine aircraft. They can detect a submarine visually or by radar and transmit the information to the aircraft. Tu-142 armed with antisubmarine weapons will immediately deliver a strike. Experts call it a revolution in the fight against submarines, the Izvestia daily writes.

Tu 142 antisubmarine aircraft to partner with drones 01 A Tu-142 of the Russian Navy (Picture source: Fedor Leukhin)

The Northern fleet has already held a joint exercise of Tu-142 and Forpost. In future, the new vehicles will be delivered to the naval aviation of other fleets. The Pacific fleet will follow the Northern fleet. Drones can also interact with Be-12 amphibious planes, Defense Ministry sources said.

Drones expand the capabilities of antisubmarine aircraft, former Navy Chief-of-Staff Admiral Valentin Selivanov believes. "Drones are necessary to reconnoiter the surface and underwater situation. Tu-142 surveys major areas and sees big strips in front and close to it. But it does not know how the situation is changing outside the areas. Drones can be sent to check a direction or water area if it needs increased attention or causes concern of the aircraft crew or the command," he said.

Drones can also create a zone around warships which is inaccessible for submarines, expert Dmitry Boltenkov said. "Drones are likely to interact not only with Tu-142, but with antisubmarine Il-38 aircraft as well. The aircraft will obtain information from buoys, while drones will expand the radar field to a much bigger space," he said.

In the Black, Baltic, Barents Seas and the Sea of Japan they will operate in tandem with light antisubmarine Be-12 aircraft, he added.

Forpost was upgraded for antisubmarine defense and equipped with a modular optical-electronic system for surface and ground objects and a radar. The equipment allows operating at night and in any weather. The drone becomes an effective vehicle for patrol and reconnaissance. Depending on the modification, it can operate in a radius of 250-400 km from the operator and develop a speed of over 200 km/h and fly for 17 hours.


Tu 142 antisubmarine aircraft to partner with drones 02 Forpost (Picture source: Russian MoD)

Forpost carries a platformless inertial navigation system which provides for the flights without GLONASS or GPS. The vehicle can operate in areas with heavy air defense and electronic warfare of the adversary.

The antisubmarine Forpost will be equipped with a special channel for the transmission of video and geographic coordinates to the aircraft. Tu-142 flying nearby and waiting for the target will receive the information in real time.

In 2019, the modernization of Tu-142 began which will make it more dangerous for submarines. In particular, it received Gefest SVP-24 sight which ensures precision fire with traditional arms. The system automatically calculates the trajectory to the target, the speed, altitude and weather. The strike precision is comparable to costly precision weapons.

The sight increased the effectiveness of antisubmarine torpedoes, depth and ordinary air bombs. The strikes are now delivered from the maximum distance which allows Tu-142 to fire without entering hostile air defense and electronic warfare zone.

The sight can obtain guidance from helicopters, airplanes and warships operating together with Tu-142. It makes it possible to engage other craft of the naval airpower. Tu-142 will get more powerful drone partners in foreseeable future. The aircraft can operate with double-engine Altuis-U vehicles with a range of 10 thousand kilometers, the Izvestia said.

Tu 142 antisubmarine aircraft to partner with drones 03 Altius-U during its first flight (Picture source: Russian MoD)

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