The Indian navy has retired the last of its Ilyushin Il-38 ‘Sea Dragon’ maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), following over four decades in service.

The decommissioning of India’s last Il-38s took place at INS Hansa near Goa on 31 October, according to the country’s defence ministry.

“With its unique capabilities, striking prowess and extended reach covering the vast Indian Ocean region, the Il-38 SD has over the years proven itself to be a formidable force multiplier,” says the ministry.

The type has been in Indian navy service since 1977, serving with the force’s 315 Sqn.

The Cold War era Il-38 entered service with the Soviet Union in 1967 and is a derivative of the Il-18 airliner. Powered by four Ivchenko Progress AI-20M turboprops, it carries weapons and sensors consistent with the long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions.

Cirium fleets data indicates that New Delhi operated four Il-38s prior to the type’s retirement.

The exit of India’s Il-38s follows the departure of its MPA-roled Tupolev Tu-142ME “Albatross” aircraft in 2017.

India’s long-range ASW/MPA role is now filled by the Boeing P-8I Neptune, of which 12 examples are in service.

Cirium fleets data suggest that Russia is the only remaining Il-38 operator, with 21 examples in service with the country’s navy. Russia is also listed as having five aircraft in storage.