The Albatross will finally ‘land’ in Kolkata. After surveying several locations to set up a museum for one of the Indian Navy’s legendary asset — the Tupolev Tu-142M maritime reconnaissance aircraft – the state government has earmarked a two-acre plot in New Town for the display.
A similar museum exists at Visakhapatnam. According to a source in the secretariat, an agreement will be finalized on Wednesday to finalize the agreement between the Navy and the state. It will take nearly a year to set up the museum. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 10-12 crore, which will be borne by the state urban development department.
The Navy will create a museum on the aircraft and put up displays around it for visitors, particularly the youth who are interested in pursuing a career in the armed forces.
The state wanted the display where there aren’t too many attractions. A plot was selected off Eastern Metropolitan Bypass at Mukundapur, but there was a legal dispute and the state finally settled on New Town.
The aircraft christened ‘Albatross’ due to its wingspan will require an area of nearly half a football field to park. It is nearly 175-foot-long and has a wingspan of 164 feet. Called ‘Bear’ in NATO parlance, these aircraft not only carried out reconnaissance, but also tracked down and destroyed enemy submarines. They were called the Navy’s ‘submarine killers’.
The Tupolev Tu-142Ms were procured from Russia in 1988 and based at Dabolim in Goa. Their primary role was long-range reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare. In 1992, their base was shifted to INS Rajali near Chennai from where they undertook several missions. These aircraft participated in exercises and operations, including those in the Maldives and by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka. Their 29-year career was accident-free and all six aircraft were decommissioned together in 2017.
Once everything is worked out, the Navy will bring the 90,000kg mammoth in pieces and assemble it at the museum site. The Tu-142Ms have now been replaced by the P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft that are armed with Harpoon antiship missiles and torpedoes along with state-of-the-art sensors. The Tu-142Ms carried torpedoes, free fall bombs and depth charges. The Tu-142Ms were also considered the fastest turbo-props in the world.
Source: Times of India