Air International 2002-08
A.Dawes - Tupolev's Bear /Military/ (3)
A Tu-142MK Bear-F Mod 3 landing at Ostrov naval air station in Western Russia. Although this variant, which first flew in 1975, introduced an upgraded ASW processing suite, plus a magnetic anomaly detector, clearly seen at the top of the fin, it offered little other than longer range when compared with the Ilyushin' Il-38 May.
Seen at the type’s main operating base at Kipelovo in the far north west of Russia, this early production Tu-142 Bear-F Mod 1 can be distinguished from the Mod 3 and 4 by the absence of the MAD boom at the fin tip.
Notable in this landing view of a Bear-F Mod 3 at Ostrov is the large tear-drop shaped antenna housing of the Korshun (NATO Wet Eye) search radar.
Unlike the earlier Bear-Fs, the Tu-142MZ, some Bear-F Mod 4s are painted medium grey overall. The ECM antenna at the extreme nose and the long forward and rear external waveguide covers are distinguishing features of the Mod 4.
The precise function of the forward facing antenna on the fin tip of the Tu-142MR is not known, but is believed to serve the aircraft’s HF radio system.
The prototype Tu-142MR retained the glazed nose ot the Tu-142 from which it was developed. The aircraft is seen at Nikolayev in the Ukraine, sharing the ramp with Ukrainian Air Force Su-24s.
Indian Navy Tu-142MKEh export variants of the Bear-F Mod 3 are based on India's east coast, with their principal tasks being maritime surveillance and ASW patrols over the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. This Indian Navy Bear-F developed a technical problem over the Arabian Sea and made a precautionary landing at Sharjah in 1995. It carries the three-letter base identifier DAB for Dabolim, on the fin, indicating its operating base at that time.
One of the Kipelovo-based Tu-142MR Bear-Js captured just after take-off for an operational training sortie. The type’s current external features are all clearly visible in this view, namely the thimble-shaped radome, the under-fuselage antenna drive unit, the satellite communications antenna on top of the fuselage and the forward facing fin-top antenna.
The large ventral housing for the trailing wire antenna drive motor of the Bear-J’s very-low frequency Oryol communications system dominates the aircraft's central under-fuselage area.
Although mounted high on the airframe of the Bear-F Mod 3, the detector head of the MMS-106 Ladoga MAD boom is still greatly influenced by the proximity of Tu-142’s airframe and lacks the sensitivity necessary for successful use of the device.
Early Bear-F Mod 4 variants were finished in the standard lacquered aluminium finish of the majority of large Russian bombers and transports.
Just about to rotate on its take-off run at Kipelovo, a Tu-142MK Bear-F Mod 3 streaks past the wooded area which flanks the base’s main runway.
Photographs of Bear-F sonobuoys and weapons are rare and this early picture of an unidentified stores pack is one of the only known images in the public domain of any Russian ASW payload.
Tupolev Tu-142MZ Bear-F Mod 4