Naval Air: December 5, 2001


The Indian Navy's aviation branch is leasing four Russian Tu-22M Backfire bombers for naval patrol and strike missions to counter Pakistan's Orions and Atlantiques. India is negotiating a $500 million deal for Russia to upgrade India's fleet of eight Tu-142M Bear-F maritime patrol planes to include Sea Dragon anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine weapons, and an electronic communications link to the national nuclear command system. This could indicate that the planes would eventually be used as a nuclear strike force armed with cruise missiles. The Indian Air Force will receive its first IL-78MK Midas tanker-transport aircraft in 2003. These will be used to refuel both Russian-built and Western-built aircraft in Indian service. The Russians wanted to sell existing IL-78s to India but the Indians insisted on new-built aircraft.--Stephen V Cole


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