Ilyushin's Il-18 was a major milestone in the development of Soviet commercial aviation. Its performance, capacity and reliability made it an obvious choice for adaptation of reduntant airframes for military roles. The first cush conversion was the Il-20M (NATO Coot-A) dedicated strategic Elint/radar reconnaissance aircraft. Fitted with a side-looking airborne radar, cameras and other optical sensors, the Coot-A can be regarded as the Soviet answer to the Boeing RC-135 series.
The Il-22 Coot-B airborne command post variant was developed by the Myasischev design bureau and is available in two versions: the Il-18Ds and new-build aircraft.
Four Il-20RTs built as dedicated tracking aircraft for space flight support remain in Russian air force and naval aviation as trainers and transports.
Il-18Ds and reconverted Il-22s also serve as staff/VIP transports.
The Il-38 (NATO May) long-range maritime patrol and ASW aircraft entered service in 1968. Production comprised up to 65 aircraft. Search sensors include a Berkut STS (NATO Wet Eye) search radar and associated sonobuoys and a tail-mounted APM-73 magnetic anomaly detector. The May also carried out maritime search and rescue and reconnaissance roles for which some aircraft were retrofitted with the Vishnya Comint system.
Most of the former Soviet Il-38s remain in use with the naval aviation. The sole export operator is the Indian Navy which received five Il-38s to equip INAS 315 Sqn at Dabolim. In 1999 the Indian Mays received an upgraded mission avionics/ESM suite - possibly the Morskoy Zmey search and targeting system developed by the Leninets Holding Company. With continuing production of the Tu-142 Bear-F, Russian Il-38s may adopt a shorter-range role, and due to their excellent reliability and safety record, are scheduled to remain in viable service up to at least 2012.