Tupolev TU-126 Moss - Operational Service
After finishing the large volume of tests, by the decision of Council of Ministers CCCP of #363-133 dated April 30, 1965, and also by the orders [MAP] of #075 dated May 15, 1965 and MO of #041, the Tu-126 DRLO complex was accepted for the armament of National Air Defense Forces. In the following year began the entering of the first production machines. Practically always they were based at Shaulyaem airfield in Lithuanian CCP, where, in proportion to inspection by the customer of series machines, entered all Tu-126 constructed, including the prototype.
The Squadron consisted of two forces of 4 aircraft of each. The ninth aircraft (first experimental) did not enter not in one of the forces and had regular air crew. On it all modifications, which the representatives of plant and NII (Scientific Research Institute) constantly been present in the part carried out first of all were conducted. This machine was on a special-program, in essence, under control of squadron commander. Taking into account special features Tu-126, the pilots with the wide experience were taken to it. The craft commander was usually Major, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer - by captains. Somewhat later into the squadron began to come pilots from super-sonic aircraft: Yak-28, MiG-25, Tu-128. For them Tu-126 it was pre-retirement aircraft, and they strove to remain in this paradisiacal place. All navigators and combat control were graduates of Stavropol VVAULSH, and those finished from the MAI were encountered among the flight engineers. Radio-crew - officers were from the radio-technical air defense forces. The ground crew of each aircraft consisted of 8 people: senior technician in the title of captain, three technicians and mechanics - two ensigns and two enlisted. The course of combat training [KBP] L-69 was specially developed for Tu-126, which provided for finalizing the following tasks: conducting radar and electronic reconnaissance in the water areas of Kara, Barents and Baltic seas, the guidance of distant interceptors to the aerial targets on the distant boundaries (North Western of Novaya Zemlya), tracking of the waterborne targets.
After entering into operation the Tu-126 exhibited problems of tracking of important waterborne targets. The matter was limited to trainings in the installation of the random caravans of vessels with the determination of the composition, course and velocity of motion. The equipment, intended for the automatic aim designation for Tu-128 interceptors, could not be brought to the working order, and their guidance to the training targets began to be produced exclusively in the manual regime - maximum of 10 fighters to 10 purposes. This was nothing of what was required.
Practically Tu-126 it proved to be able to solve only two forms of the tasks: detection and the tracking of aerial targets and conducting radio-technical reconnaissance [RTR]. The obtained data by the telecode connection were transferred to the points of reception, located in Vaskovo in the environs of Arkhangelsk and in Severomorske, further to Moscow and along the system "air-1" to the entire air defense system of the CCCP. Complex ensured the transmission of following data: belonging to the air or waterborne target ("friendly" or "stranger") - simultaneously on four purposes, the coordinate of aerial target in the conditional system of coordinates - simultaneously on fourteen purposes, the height of purposes above sea level. During the patrolling at an altitude of 8000 meters the range of detection of aircraft reached 420 km.
Flight courses lay from Shaulyaya through Leningrad and Arkhangelsk into the region of Novaya Zemlya or through the Kola peninsula into the region of the Earth Franz Joseph. Flight to the patrol zone occupied about 3 hours, with 2 h 20 min on station, depending on the fuel remainder. The usual duration of a sortie was equal to 8,5 h, and rarely 9 hours. Another route lay into the Baltic sea, into Gotland Is. region, and flight continued only 5 hours: there very narrow patrol zone, literally nowhere to be developed. Flew simultaneously 1-2 aircraft, on the north - to 4 machines. Sometimes Tu-126 walked along the Western CCCP borders to the Black sea. Each summer 2 aircraft squadrons for the month -one-and-a-half were relocated to the operational airfield at Olenegorsk. From there they could fly considerably further Novaya Zemlya, where Yak-28[P] were based at Rogachevo airfield. The crews of the Tu-126 perfected interaction with them, and also Tu-128 from the airfield at Talagi.
From time to time 67-I squadron participated also in the large studies, for example, "Okean" in 1970. But in essence flights were carried out by assignment from the staff of the 10th Independent Army PVO, sometimes on the claims of Strategic Forces [SF]. Constant standby alert was not organized, although in part there were always machines ready for departure. Flights were monotonous. Immediately after takeoff "Livna / Liana" was switched into the mode of warming-up, and with the gain of altitude of 7200-8000 m they passed for the emission. Work continued almost before landing itself, with exception of the periods, when station went out of order. But the presence on board the spare units, and in the radio-crew - repairmen made it possible to reduce to a minimum of the consequence the defect level, which was large at first. As a rule, aboard were located 2 complete radios-crew even one flying. Left-seat pilot in all cases remained commander. In the separate stages of flight the senior operator of complex could correct route, recommending to take more to the right or more left in the dependence on the tactical situation. If task provided for refueling, then additionally onboard they took according to one pilot, navigator and flight engineer. In the beginning, since 1969 the squadron was not less than approximately 7 crews, capable of being primed. However, after 1979 this operation was no longer carried out, as the command ceased to operate the 3[MS]-2 tankers, which were not sufficient in number.
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