They are the most famous representatives of Tupolev military aircrafts.
Strategic bomber aircraft Tu-95 “Atomic Bear”
Strategic (intercontinental) bomber completed its first flight in 1952. In 1955 serial production of the aircraft began. Over the past decades, the aircraft was repeatedly modified and upgraded. The aircraft is still today is in service of the Russian Armed Forces. Probably it will remain in military service for another decade.
The wingspan of the aircraft is 50.4 m with a length of 49 m. The practical ceiling of the aircraft is 10,500 meters. The information on the range of the aircraft is notdisclosed. There are some rumors that it is up to 10 000 km.
Each aircraft is equipped with in-flight refueling, which not only extends the range of the aircraft for the whole globe, but also allows the aircraft to remain in the air for a long time.
The aircraft Tu-95 can carry strategic long rangecruise missiles. The range of modern cruise missiles X-101 can reach up to 5500 km with a hit precision of up to 2 meters.
In Russia, at least 32 aircrafts of this type are on military duty in the air or ready to take off at any moment. At least twice as many aircrafts are in conservation.
Here is a video of strategic missile Tu-95MS “Atomic Bear” in flight:
In the statement made by US military commanders that the Russian bombers Tu-95 pose “no threat”, there is some truth.
Propeller bombers are much more economical than jets. That means that one hour of their operation is significantly cheaper to Russia. This allows Russia to “hold” the aircraftsat the locations around the world where it needs them.
Aircrafts designed in Tupolev studio more than half a century ago, are unlikely to pose a significant threat. Here US military functionaries are correct. The only problem is that Tu-95 is not a weapon. TU-95 is a carrier of weapons, missiles. Simply put, it is a hanging in the air at the desired location in the world rocket launcher.
Can you shoot down a plane in a couple of minutes? Yes. But it can fire missiles in 3 seconds. It is enough for an aircraft to “shoot out” and that’s it – it has no further use, it is then just an empty shell. It’s like an empty beer can. Beer has been shaken and it splattered around on everyone when the can got opened. And the guys at the Pentagon suggest collecting empty beer cans. Seriously, they are better off figuring out how not to shake the can!
Strategic bomber Tu-160 “White Swan” / “Blackjack”
This jet bomber is the largest military supersonic aircraft, as well as the heaviest combat aircraft in the world.
Today in Russia on military duty there are only 16 units of Tu-160. Altogether 35 strategic bombers have been produced. A certain number of these combat aircrafts is panned to be additionally manufactured.
Originally this aircraft was designed as a response to US strategic aviation. The Soviet Union already had a powerful enough “missile umbrella”, but its strategic air command was still using propeller aircraft Tu-95, which at that time could not break through the air defense.
Tu-160 was originally planned to be used solely as a missile carrier (strategic nuclear missiles and nuclear weapons of medium-range). Later the range for the military use of the aircraft has been extended: now it can carry up to 40 tons of different-sized bombs, mines or missiles. The heaviest combat aircraft may also carry aeroballistic hypersonic missiles.
“White Swan” has a variable geometry of the wing, which means that at high speeds the wings get “pressed” to the fuselage of the aircraft, thus reducing air resistance.
The maximum speed of the bomber is 1800 kilometers per hour, and its service ceiling is 14,000 meters.
Compared to the same American aircraft “Blackjack” Tu-160 is much faster, it has a larger radius of combat activity and can carry much more weight (up to 12 nuclear cruise missiles).
Unlike Tu-160, its American counterpart B-1 is capable of flying at low altitudes, gliding over the terrain, but almost all modern air defense systems can quickly prevent it flying at such altitudes. That means that the American counterpart can be used only in the context of military operations in countries with underdeveloped military technology.
“White Swan”, despite its huge size (being the biggest bomber in the world), has low visibility to radars. Because of this, there have been several incidents when aircrafts Tu-160 during routine maneuvers were completely unexpectedly identified near the air borders of countries with advanced air defense technologies.
In fact, “Blackjack” is a kind of aircraft that can’t be intercepted. Air defense systems can only try to intercept the missiles it releases.
Photos by Vitaly Kuzmin