Find a Security Clearance Job!


Il-38 May

US Polaris SSBNs went to sea in the early 1960s. Although the Soviets still considered anticarrier warfare critical, top priority passed to ASW. As Marshal Sokolovskiy stated, "The most important task of the Soviet Navy is the destruction of Polaris submarines." Soviet ASW capabilities, at the time, were inferior to those of Western military forces. The main Soviet ASW airborne platform was the BE-6 MADGE which was slow, short-ranged, and incapable of coping with US SSBNs. Limited by a 500-nautical mile combat radius and lacking forward basing, it could not reach its target. The Soviets knew that they had to extend the range and speed of ASW forces. This was to come in the form of new aircraft, ASW cruisers, and forward operating areas and bases.

The Il-38 was introduced in 1969 and closely resembles the P-3 ORION. It is fitted with radar, magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment, and sonobuoys. The MAY can be armed with ASW torpedoes, bombs, and depth charges. About 50 to 55 MAY aircraft operated over the Barents and Norwegian Seas, as well as the Northern Pacific.

The most well known military adaptation of the Il-18 is the maritime patrol/ASW Il-38 'May'. The Ilyushin Il-38 May is a Soviet maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft developed from the Il-18. The Il-38 is believed to have flown for the first time in 1957 and about 100 were built, with about three dozen serving with Russian naval aviation, while five were delivered to India in 1975. It is powered by four Ivchenko Al-20 single-shaft turboprops and has a maximum speed of 450mph and a range of 4500 miles.

This differs from the standard Il-18 by having a lengthened fuselage, MAD (magnetic anomaly detection) tail 'sting', weapon-carrying capability, and the wing located much further forward on the fuselage to offset the change in center of gravity resulting from the introduction of more equipment and stores. Details of the Il-38 are limited, but the airframe is stretched by 4m (1 3ft) over the Il-18 and the wings are moved forward. The Il-38 has a short front fuselage and a much longer aft-fuselage, and two bomb bays. The tail contains a MAD, while under the forward fuselage a search radar (named 'Wet Eye' by NATO) is housed in a bulged radome. There are two internal weapons bays, one forward and one rear of the wing.

According to information from public sources, as of 2005 at the Pacific Fleet at the airbase near the village of Mikolayivka (Primorye) there were based 16 IL-38 with the 77th separate anti-range aviation. Another 20 such "Ilov" were deployed in Severomorsk, Murmansk Region 1 (24 th oplap). In Soviet times, in Skulte (Latvia) 145-I, there was a separate anti squadron, "covering the Baltic Sea. It had 6 "thirty-eighths." However, figures vary. According to western directories, the Russian Navy had only 26 such machines. Domestic Russian public sources indicate that as of 2005, comprising aviation SF are 10 Il-38, the TOF - 15, and several more - in the center of combat training and pereuchivaniya crew Marine aviation at the Navy airbase in the town of Ostrov (Pskov region). Total of about 30 (other estimates - 35).

The first IL-38 were built in the early 1960s on the basis of the passenger Il-18V, which had a markedly longer fuselage. For the first time, "the thirty-eighth" took off 27 Sept, 1961 - with the famous pilot airman test Vladimir Kokkinaki. Search and attack system "Berkut" waas been installed for tests on 10 March, 1963. The system was under development for quite a long time - the plane was adopted by the Navy only on 17 January 1969 - 12 years after having been given a government job for its development. Serial production of the "Ilov" lasted until 1972. In 1967 at Nikolaevke began the first regiment of the submarine Air Hunters.

In all the factory "Banner of Labor" (Moscow) built 65 such machines (it was declared in 1962 that the need was for250). Five of them in 1977 were sold to India and joined the Indian Navy Air Squadron 315. In the early 1970's they were in the air sometimes for 10-14 hours. The machine was considered very reliable. During the years of operation there was only one disaster. An Il-38 was lost during a severe storm in the Pacific Ocean. The crew did not have enough fuel to circumvent a wealth of bad weather, and the commander decided to fly above thunderstorms. But the plane was hit by lightning, in front of the second crew "Ila" It caught fire and disappeared into the abyss.

The average annual flight rate on the IL-38 until 1991, was 300-350 h, which was considered a good indicator. From 1969 to 1981 crews IL-38 produced 4,095 sorties in the military services with a total 24 570 flight hours, the outcome - the discovery of 172 foreign submarines, some of whom were tracking of varying lengths.

Air Vectors reports that "Although 250 Il-38s were planned, only 58 -- some sources give 65 -- machines were built to end of production in 1972, with manufacture performed at the same state factory in Khodynka that built the Il-18. In service, the Il-38 proved popular with crews, both for its good handling and its reliability, the type having an excellent safety record. Five were obtained by the Indian Navy; some Il-38s based in Egypt in the early 1970s were flown in Egyptian markings, but they remained under Soviet control and were flown by Soviet crews. Soviet Il-38s were on occasional operated from friendly states including Libya, Syria, South Yemen, and Ethiopia; two Mays were destroyed by Ethiopian insurgents in 1984."

Join the mailing list

Unconventional Threat podcast - Threats Foreign and Domestic: 'In Episode One of Unconventional Threat, we identify and examine a range of threats, both foreign and domestic, that are endangering the integrity of our democracy'

Page last modified: 13-11-2016 18:56:40 ZULU