After retiring the oldest operational Aircraft Carrier INS VIRAAT (LINK) the navy is set to retire the Soviet built TU 142 MKE's which were infact the first real LRASW (Long Range Anti Submarine Warfare) aircraft of Indian Navy.
The aircraft has served the Indian Navy for almost 3 decades and has been actively used for Maritime Patrolling and to keep a watch on enemy submarines operating in the Indian waters. It is a turboprop aircraft which holds record for both Speed and Operating Altitude for this category of aircraft. It can fly at altitude as high as 13000 m and carry a considerable amount of weapons payload including missiles, torpedoes and depth charges ) and has an operational range of about 6500+ KMS.
Although TU 142 was a very potent submarine hunters but now it has done its share of work and the aircraft is near the end of its operational lifespan. Now flying and maintaining the fleet has become a very expensive task especially because it burns a lot of fuel and the spares are expensive, also with the passing of time the on-board systems have become obsolete and due to the advancement in submarine etc it is not a as effective as it once used to be.
Also out of 8 Tu 142 Indian Navy has only 3 are fully operational as navy does not want to spend money on upgrading and maintaining a fleet of aircraft which are not very effective as per present requirements, but the retirement of Tu 142 will not limit or degrade the capabilities of Indian Navy as Navy has replaced the fleet of Tu 142 with American P8-I aircraft which are more advanced and sophisticated and fulfill the requirements of Indian Navy.
The Indian Navy has 8 BOEING P8-I in service at current with 4 more on order and this number can even get doubled in near future. These have been specially been modified as per the Indian Navy's requirement and many of the systems are indigenous like data link. The aircrafts are equipped with harpoon missile block III and other weapons. These P8-I are complimented by several other aircrafts and drones which together form a layered defence.
Tu 142 aircraft has served our Navy well. It has acted as the hawk for Indian Navy for a long time and provided our nation with capabilities which we did not posses earlier.