The first flight of the Tu-142 was made on 18 July 1968, and officially introduced in December 1972.
The Tu-142 differed from the Tu-95 in having a stretched fuselage to accommodate specialised equipment for its ASW and surveillance roles, a reinforced undercarriage to support rough-field capability, improved avionics and weapons, and enhancements to general performance. The Tu-142’s capability was incrementally improved while the type was in service, eventually resulting in the Tu-142MZ, the final long-range Tu-142 with highly sophisticated combat avionics and a large payload.
Tu-142 is operated by a crew of 11-13 people, depending on the mission. It measures 53.08 m (174 ft 2 in) in length, wingspan is 50 m (164 ft 1 in), height is 12.12 m (39 ft 9 in), its empty weight is 90 tons, and Maximum takeoff is 185 tons.
The aircraft is powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12MP turboprop engines, with 14,795 hp each, powering the 8-bladed contra-rotating constant-speed propellers. The Tu-142 can reach a top speed of 925 km/h (575 mph), a cruise speed of 711 km/h (442 mph), a combat range of 6,500 km (3,500 nmi), and a service ceiling of 12,000 m (39,000 ft).
The Tu-142 is equipped with various search sensors, including a search radar and sonobuoys. The original sensors were carried over from the Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft, though some of the elements were newly developed. Eventually improved versions of the Tu-142 were fitted with more capable sensors. Magnetic anomaly detection system was added on an improved Tu-142M version.
To expand the range of activities, Tu-142 is fitted with in-flight refueling probe. Still though this maritime patrol aircraft could reach US shores without in-flight refueling. It can be used for anti-submarine warfare, anti-shipping, reconnaissance, electronic intelligence, search and rescue, and other roles.