On a day when Indian Air Force’s Squadron No. 4 decommissioned ageing Mig 21s, the Navy also bid adieu to Ilyushin-38 Sea Dragon long range maritime patrol aircraft after 46 years of glorious service to the nation.

The decommissioning ceremony was held on Tuesday at INS Hansa, Dabolim attended by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar, dignitaries and veteran officers and sailors of the IL-38 squadron along with their families.

INAS 315 was commissioned on October 1, 1977, with the induction of IL-38 aircraft heralding a modern era of airborne long range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare in the Navy, said a Navy spokesperson. “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,” the spokesperson to acknowledge the contribution of the aireal platform.

The mighty ‘Winged Stallion’ that adorns the Squadron crest has been living up to the squadron motto of ‘Victory is my Profession’, keeping a sharp vigil over and beneath the seas, in its relentless pursuit to secure nation’s maritime boundaries.

In her last legs, the aircraft enabled ‘Aatmanirbhar’ capability enhancement through successful integration of indigenous, Sahayak Air Droppable Containers, which provide critical logistics support to units deployed at sea, and trial platform for indigenous torpedoes, spokesperson stated.

The aircraft also did its first and last flypast over Kartavya Path at the 2023 Republic Day parade.

The accident free flying record of the Russian origin aircraft was blemished when two IL-38 met with a mid-air collision in Goa, way back in 2002, four pilots among 17 dead.