Russia’s Northern Fleet is set to acquire new anti-submarine aircraft that will be modeled on a late-Soviet passenger plane.
A modified version of the Tupolev-204/214 passenger plane will be the equivalent of U.S. built Boeing P-8 Poseidon that Norway, among other countries, will deploy for surveillance flights over the Barents and Norwegian Seas.
The revamped aircraft will be deployed for surveillance in peacetime, flying maritime operations watching out for enemy submarines and will operate as a sub-hunter carrying torpedoes during a war-time scenario, a source in the Defense Ministry told the pro-Kremlin Izvestia newspaper this week.
“In peacetime, they will keep enemy submarines away from our shores,” Admiral Valentin Selivanov, former chief of the Navy's General Staff, told Izvestia.
The Tu-204 is a twin-engine medium-range jet plane designed by the Tupolev design bureau and was originally introduced in 1989 as an alternative to Aeroflot’s better-known Tu-134 and Tu-134 passenger aircraft. The Tu-204 never became popular and production of the plane has been halted for commercial companies, with the last few planes being retired in October 2018 by Russia’s Red Wings Airlines.
Today the plane is still used for special operations by the Rossiya airline, the Roscosmos space agency and the Defense Ministry, as well as other state agencies.
No time frame for the projected start of operations with the new sub-hunter version of the aircraft has been released.
Today, the Russian Northern Fleet’s anti-submarine aviation division, flying out from the Kola Peninsula, operates the Illyushin-38 and Tu-142 aircraft as well as the Ka-27 helicopter. Both the Il-38 and the Tu-142 were designed in the 1960s.
“The question of updating the fleet of anti-submarine aircraft has been facing the Navy since the mid-1990s,” said military expert Dmitry Boltenkov to Izvestia.