Ilyushin Il-38

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ilyushin Il-38SD Krivchikov 2007.jpg
Ilyushin Il-38SD of the Indian Navy in 2007.
Role Anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol aircraft
Design group Ilyushin
First flight 20 July 1971[1]
Primary users Soviet Naval Aviation
Russian Naval Aviation
Indian Naval Air Arm
Number built 58
Developed from Ilyushin Il-18

The Ilyushin Il-38 "Dolphin"[1] (NATO reporting name: May) is a maritime patrol aircraft and anti-submarine warfare aircraft designed in the Soviet Union. It was a development of the Ilyushin Il-18 turboprop transport.

Design and development

The Il-38 is an adaptation of the four-engined turboprop Ilyushin Il-18 for use as a maritime patrol aircraft for the Soviet Navy. It meets a requirement to counter American ballistic missile submarines. The Communist Party Central Committee and the Council of Ministers issued a joint directive on 18 June 1960, calling for a prototype to be ready for trials by the second quarter of 1962. The fuselage, wing, tail unit and engine nacelles were the same as the Il-18 and it had the same powerplant and flight deck. An aerodynamic prototype of the Il-38 first flew on 28 September 1961,[2] with the first production aircraft following in September 1967. Production continued until 1972, when the longer-range and more versatile Tupolev Tu-142 derivative of the Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber had entered service.[3]

The airframe is based on the Il-18, with the wings moved forward 3 m (9.84 ft).[4] Unlike the Il-18, only the forward fuselage of the Il-38 is pressurized. The tail contains a MAD, while under the forward fuselage a Berkut ("Golden Eagle") search radar (named "Wet Eye" by NATO) is housed in a bulged radome. There are two internal weapons bays, one forward of the wing, housing sonobuoys and one behind the wing housing weapons.[2]

Some Western sources state that 58 were produced;[3] the commander of the ASW squadron at Ostrov has stated that Soviet Naval Aviation received 35,[1] of which about thirty remain in service with Russian Naval Aviation.[5] Five were passed to India in 1977/8.[1] In the mid-1990s it seems the Tu-204/Tu-214 airliner won a competition against the Beriev A-40/Be-42 amphibious plane to replace the Il-38 in Russian service,[1] but a lack of funds crippled the project. More recently an A-40 variant seems to be under development to replace the Il-38.

India received three ex-Soviet Naval Aviation Il-38s in 1977, with two more arriving in 1983. Indian modifications included fitting pylons to the fuselage side to carry the Sea Eagle anti-ship missile.[6] The Il-38s of the Indian Navy have been sent back to Russia for upgrades. They will incorporate the new Sea Dragon avionic suite, incorporating a new radar, a Forward looking infrared (FLIR) turret under the nose and an electronic intelligence (ELINT) system housed in a box-like structure mounted on struts above the forward fuselage.[5] Three upgraded aircraft, designated Il-38 SD, have been delivered to the Indian Navy.[7] There are reports of efforts towards adding the capability to fire the Indo-Russian Brahmos cruise missile from this aircraft. Mockups have been displayed with air-launched Brahmos attached to underwing pylons on the Indian Navy aircraft.[citation needed]

Operational history

One prototype was lost in the early 1970s when it was forced to ditch in the sea.[1]

The Il-38 was operated by units in the Soviet Northern, Pacific and Baltic fleets. In March 1968 a squadron of Il-38s deployed to Cairo in Egypt, flown by Soviet crews but in Egyptian markings, until being withdrawn in 1972. Il-38s continued to deploy overseas through the Cold War, flying from Aden in South Yemen, Asmara in what was then Ethiopia, Libya and Syria. Two Il-38s were attacked on the ground in a commando raid and at least one was destroyed by Eritrean People's Liberation Front fighters in 1984 at Asmara.[3] Following the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union, Il-38s continue in service with the Russian Navy's Arctic and Pacific Fleets.[5]

The type made its first visit to a NATO base in 1995, at NAS Jacksonville.[1] Its first appearance at an airshow in the West was at the 1996 Royal International Air Tattoo in the UK.[1]

A tragic midair crash occurred on 1 October 2002, during the Indian squadron's silver jubilee celebrations. IN302 and IN304, which were flying parallel to each other, had a midair collision above the Dabolim airport in Goa. All twelve aircrew (six aboard each aircraft) were killed and both aircraft were also destroyed.[8]

On December 7, 2010, two Russian Navy Il-38s appeared over the Japan Sea near the Noto Peninsula, interrupting a combined US-Japan Navy drill. The exercises were temporarily halted because of concern that Il-38s might be carrying out surveillance missions on US/Japan naval activities.


An unmarked Ilyushin IL-38, which was later delivered to the India Navy in 1983 and was the navy's first Il-38 to be modernised to SD standard.
Production aircraft
Modified variant with a receiver probe as part of a hose and drogue air refuelling System, did not enter service
Was a modified tanker variant of the Il-38, did not enter service
Improved variant sometimes referred to as Il-38SD for Sea Dragon the new search and tracking system. Version for the Russian Navy is equipped with the Novella system.[9] Il-38N is able to find air targets at ranges of up to 90 kilometers and follow the surface objects within a radius of 320 kilometers. 8 aircraft have been delivered to the Russian Navy[10][verification needed] Modernized anti-submarine planes have entered into service with Russia’s Pacific Fleet.[11]


Il-38 of the Indian Navy at INS Hansa in Goa, with a Tupolev Tu-142 in the foreground.
 Soviet Union

Specifications (Il-38)

Data from Russian Navy at RIAT 1996[1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: seven-eight[1]
  • Length: 40.185[1] m (131 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan: 37.4[1] m (122 ft 8 in)
  • Height: 10.17[1] m (33 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: 140[1] m2 (1,500 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 35,500[1] kg (78,264 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 66,000[1] kg (145,505 lb)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Ivchencko/Progress AI-20M[1] turboprop engines, 3,151 kW (4,225[1] hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 645[1] km/h (401 mph; 348 kn)
  • Ferry range: 7,500[1] km (4,660 mi; 4,050 nmi)
  • Endurance: 13 hours[1]
  • Service ceiling: 11,000[1] m (36,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 5.33 m/s (1,049 ft/min)


  • 20,000 lb (9,000 kg) of disposable stores, including depth charges, mines, torpedoes and bombs.

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Borst, Marco P.J. (Summer 1996). "Ilyushin IL-38 May- the Russian Orion" (pdf). Airborne Log. Lockheed: 8–9. 
  2. ^ a b Lake 2005, p.31.
  3. ^ a b c Lake 2005, p.32.
  4. ^ Gordon 2004, p.92.
  5. ^ a b c Lake 2005, p.36.
  6. ^ Lake 2005, pp.32-33.
  7. ^
  8. ^ India navy planes collide in mid-air
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  • Lake, Jon. "Russia's Submarine Killer: Ilyushin IL-38 May". Air International, February 2005, Vol 68 No.2. Stamford, UK:Key Publishing. pp. 30–36.
  • Gordon, Yefim and Dmitriy Komissarov, Ilyushin Il-18/-20/-22; A Versatile Turboprop Transport, Midland Publishing:Hinckley England. 2004.
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Ilyushin Il-38"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA