Russia’s Tu-95MS ‘Bear’ Strategic Bomber And Missile Carrier

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Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

USSR’s first genuinely intercontinental bomber, the Tu-95 is practically a contemporary of the US B-52 Stratofortress, having entered operational service in 1956 at which time it acquired its iconic NATO reporting name of “Bear”. However, since the Tu-95 production continued until 1992, the Russian Bear fleet is considerably younger than the US B-52 fleet, the youngest of which dates back to the 1960s. It is a testament to the power and reliability of these aircraft that, even though their countries’ respective strategic bomber fleets eventually received more advanced aircraft such as the Tu-160, B-1, and B-2, the 1950s-era bombers remain the mainstay of the aerial strategic deterrents thanks to their conversion into nuclear air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) carriers, the Tu-95MS which is easily distinguished from the earlier variants by having a prominent aerial refueling probe and a large radar blister under its nose, as opposed to the glazed nose of the initial versions.  Unlike the B-52, the Tu-95 was never used as a conventional bomber. Apart from having the Tu-22–series bombers for that task, B-52 losses over North Vietnam proved that large subsonic aircraft have no business mixing it up with supersonic interceptors and long-range missiles.

While over 500 Tu-95 bombers and related aircraft like the Tu-142 maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft, were produced, only 60 remain in Russia’s Long-Range Aviation, all of them cruise missile-capable Tu-95MS variants. They are assigned to the 184th Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment of the 22nd Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Division based at the Engels Airbase in Saratov Region, and the 182nd and 79th Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiments of the 326th Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Division, based at the Ukrainka Airbase. Since the Tu-95MS numbers are considerably greater than those of the Tu-160, unsurprisingly the Bears are frequently “hosted” by US, European, and Japanese fighters in the territorial waters off the coasts of the United States, Europe, and Japan.

The Tu-95 fleet currently consists of two sub-types, the Tu-95MS-16, and the Tu-95MSM, and the modernization is intended to bring most of the unmodernized bombers to the upgraded standard. Since the Tu-95 cannot very well be made into a supersonic or a stealthy aircraft, the upgrades necessarily consist of improving the aircraft’s offensive and defensive electronic systems, introducing satellite navigation, and new communications. But the biggest component of the effort to maintain Tu-95 effectiveness is adapting to to carry new weapons the Kh-101 conventional and Kh-102 nuclear ALCM. Designed by the Raduga Design Bureau, the Kh-101/102 offers several improvements over the earlier Kh-55/555 cruise missiles. They include much greater accuracy, significantly reduced radar cross-section, and a more than doubled effective range of at least 5,500km which allows even the subsonic Tu-95 to minimize its exposure to opposing air defenses. On the debit side, the Kh-101-series weapons’ greater weight–about 2.5 tons, as opposed to less than 1.5 ton for the Kh-55, and increased size, some 7.5 meters in length as opposed to less than 6 meters for the Kh-55, means a reduced payload. While the Tu-95MS could carry up to 16 of the earlier missiles thanks to the rotary launchers installed in the bomb bays, the modernized Tu-95MSM payload on an intercontinental mission would not exceed 8 missiles, all on external underwing pylons.

The ongoing modernization program indicates the Bears will remain in service for decades to come, alongside the Tu-160 whose production will resume in a few years. The modernization is most likely intended to maintain the viability of the Tu-95MS fleet until the PAK-DA heavy bomber is ready for operational service. According to the Tupolev Design Bureau, bomber airframes are in sufficiently good condition to permit operation until at least 2040. Though built for the Cold War, ironically enough the first combat use of the Tu-95 was against jihadist high-value targets in Syria, against which the bombers launched cruise missiles. Since world peace does not appear ready to break out in the current unstable multipolar world, the Bears are almost certain to see more action in the remaining decades of their service.

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  • Stephen

    America blame and attack game started again. America for always do premature accusations and then attacked the country for political achievements. Imposing sanctions will not hurt Russia but definitely America because America import their technology. Russia is an exporter and not importer. All types of weapons, vehicles, minerals, foods and equipments etc. produced in Russia.

    • WinkoB

      Stephen, while I don’t disagree that Russia is a prolific exporter of goods and technology, don’t think for a minute that the US NEEDS to import it’s technology. Having worked in this sector for many decades, I assure you, both private and government research labs and facilities are designing a generation or two ahead of what is known to the world.

      Let us all pray that some of these technologies stay behind locked doors and never see fill the arsenals of any military force.

      • More

        WinkoB

        Russia to US trade is minimal which is why the US has almost no leverage on Russia except by using the EU to sanction Russia.

        Even so, the Russia to EU trade is highly strategic, disrupting it could cause a world wide spike in oil prices.

        In 2016, Russia was the largest exporter of oil to the EU, supplying 31.84% of its oil imports at 1,198,914 Barrels at an average price of US$41.65 valued at close to US$50 Billion.

        http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Saudi-Arabia-Vs-Russia-The-Next-Oil-Price-War.html

        Russia gas exports to the EU in 2016 were worth approx. US$30 Billion which are forecast to increase to US$35 Billion approx. in 2017.

    • Mr. Perfect

      Bahahaha, you’re an idiot. Russia doesn’t produce shit but potatos and oil. The U.S produces the most technology in the world. What type of phone and computer do you use? They’re probably American.

      • PZIVJ1943

        My AT&T phone and IBM computer are made in China.
        You should try reading the fine print on the backside. HAHA
        American corporations have sold out to the lowest bidder!

        • Bill Wilson

          It’s always been that way to keep costs down. During the 60’s-70’s companies shifted production to Japan and Taiwan, to Korea in the 80’s and then China in the 90’s. Much of the production is automated using machinery designed and made in the USA.

      • DJ Double D

        Are you kidding me? American phones and computers! Produced in China?

        • Bill Wilson

          Shit. Seems like everything is made in China!

      • Gary Sellars

        Fuck off idiot…

      • Bill Wilson

        You forgot vodka and caviar.

      • Stephen

        No my phone, computer and TV made in China. Every American like China made things.

  • Julius Meinel

    What has always baffled me is why would the Russian keep most of their strategic bombers at just these two bases ( Engels and Ukrainian); that would make them susceptible to an all out attack with long range cruise missiles or stand off airplane launched missiles from Diego Garcia base or the Okinawa base. It would be wiser to scatter the Russian strategic bombers among several other bases, ( barring the logistical challenges of having them spread all over the place in Russia)

    • DJ Double D

      Be careful! What you hear is not what it is. There is something made for public consumption only.

  • Mr. Perfect

    More like teddy bear. What a piece of garbage

    • Gary Sellars

      “What a piece of garbage”

      Yup, that nicely surmises the opinion that the Southfront community has of you….

    • More

      Mr. Perfect
      “…What a piece of garbage…”

      Russia uses asymmetrical war fare against the USA and NATO who have to spend many US$100’s of Billions per year to counter the Russian “threat”.

      For every US$1 that Russia spends it costs up US$100 or more to NATO countries.

      By flying two gleaming Soviet era planes, the USA and NATO has to spend many US$ 10’s of Billions countering the threat by keeping 100’s of Fighter jets and Surface to Air Missiles active and ready along its route all the way from the Baltic’s, UK, France, Spain, etc.

      Eventually the US / NATO military spend will cause its bankruptcy.

  • Thegr8rambino

    what makes it better than B-52 is it has not been used to kill innocent civilians! lol

  • Solomon Krupacek

    I please everynody. ignore mr. perfect and never react to his comments.

    • PZIVJ1943

      Good advice. I tried to ignore him, but he left a great opening for a response. :)

    • Gary Sellars

      He is a fucking idiot. May I suggest that we all agree to refer to him as “Mr Pervert”….

    • More

      Solomon Krupacek
      Had to reply to Mr Perfect to put him in his place, at the corner of the class, LoL:)))

  • Rodney Loder

    The Corbett Report is telling us that Russian media is now boasting that their stealth technology disturbed the guidance system of the Tomahawks, I think that could be very true, as I don’t think Putin would have ordered an intercept after being warned, and the 23 hits were counted and broadcast immediately after the attack, Belgium ceased flying and all Western diplomats are refusing to commit until Tillerson makes them jump or puts them at ease on Tuesday, Duterte has reversed only Erdogan is staunch, and that’s a good thing Kurds brought the US so they can leave with the US from Syria and Turkey, maybe not Syria but certainly from Turkey he’s a good man is Erdogan.

    • Sinbad2

      Perhaps, but what is the real reliability of Tomahawk missiles?
      The US usually controls all pictures and information. To my knowledge this is the first time there has been another source of information.
      They do fire an awful lot, maybe they expect a 50% failure rate.

      • Rodney Loder

        Putin explained the mysterious disappearance of the 30 + missiles when he said that they might just as well have have been dropped from a hot air balloon, meaning they had no mid course corrections or radar guidance systems at the terminal flight stage probably there was too many fired too close together, which they did for a public display, but we can’t doubt their individual accuracy if desired, I think the failure rate of all patriots ever fired is about 120 in a 1000, but I’m no that clued up on weapons.

        • Sinbad2

          How do you get no mid course corrections, from dropped from a hot air balloon?

          Are you psychic?

          • Rodney Loder

            No I’m not psychic, I’m an Apostle and Prophet of God, about the hot air balloon Putin was referring to, he means like the attacker just lights the fuse and droops the bomb it goes straight to the target same as a preset trajectory, I think Putin is wanting Tillerson to accept his friendly remarks in a jockular manner although everyone knows what really happened wasn’t funny, I know for a fact because it came down from Heaven while I was up on my mountain this morning I just came down 5 minutes ago and it came down with me, what happened was, Tillerson lined up the gassings (it was chlorine not sarin) with the rebels two week’s beforehand, when he announced Assad could stay to give himself​ a unbiased mask the rebels then gassed the victims hours after the bomb run, most of the victims were gassed in their cells and the kids were rounded up and murdered, Pakistan is latest Nation to bail out because they figure it’s not going to work, well soon see really Russia is not the target China is.

          • More

            Rodney Loder
            “…Russia is not the target China is….”

            Disagree, its the other way around, Russia is the target along with Syria.

            US has neutralized Xi and China by making trade threats as millions of Chinese jobs depend on trade with the US.

            China will idly stand by whilst the US targets Syria.

            The North Korea threat is a ruse by Trump to keep the media busy whilst they prepare for the invasion of Syria, the waves of Tomahawk strikes will run into 1.000’s until Damascus will fall. (Think of Libya rerun).

            The Saudi Oil and Gas pipeline will be built through Syria to Turkey and the EU.

            Russia will face serious competition in oil and gas and be starved of income to oust Mr Putin i.e. he will fail to be elected as President of the Russian Federation next year

          • Rodney Loder

            US has got to demonstrate its capacity to be World Judicial System in the West, not the East.
            This idea is theologically based, W.W.1. , The Russian Revolution , The second W.W. and the Cold War was the Divine Sanction of my second coming the trial of judgmental was initially set against the jews but the Roman Catholics​ who were the Chosen People acting as medium between man and God joined forces with the jews because they too succumed to temptation.
            Probably not many will believe that, but I can prove it.
            And Russia is a spent force they needed the Communism that they gave away and Communism needed Christianity otherwise the morality of the West would just take over in Russia because they would be very wealthy and get corrupted by Satan.

          • More

            Rodney Loder
            “…World Judicial System…”

            The US is controlled by Neoconservatives and has no regard for any Judicial system including its own where Wars, Conflicts and promoting Chaos or Extra Judicial Killings (Execution without Trial) are concerned.

            The World Judicial System is primarily the United Nations which has been corrupted by the Neoconservatives who control 3 of the 5 members of the Security Council, USA, UK and France..

          • Rodney Loder

            The Security Council is not that omnipotent, brinkmanship is, the reason US have always been able to pull it off since WW2 until now is because of the outcome of psychological warfare, one way to confront this losing streak in a tangible manner is economically, the fundamental problem US has got is that their currency is used as a reserve currency they are giving leverage to other nations over US industry, now US can’t compete except as a primary producer. Weapon manufacture is only a temporary easing of the situation, Japan could remilitarise and temporary is extended that’s true also.
            Xi knows that so does Trump. China has no intention of letting the Renminbi be used the same way that’s why they purchased $ 3 billions​ of IMF, SDR bonds last year, SDR bonds should be the reserve currency all investors know that.
            The US could control brinkmanship for ever if the USD remains the reserve currency it’s already like a parasite killing it’s host, without China as a financial operative it’s all over, that is highest priority for good ideas.

          • More

            Rodney Loder
            Good reply, thank you.

  • Bill Wilson

    The Bear is a modified copy of Boeing’s B-29 bomber. During WW2 a few landed at Vladivostok due to damage suffered while bombing Japan. Stalin kept the planes and ordered to have them reversed engineered so they could produce their own since the B-29 was light years ahead compared to what the Soviet Air Force had.
    The B-52 is still in service because it’s been extremely reliable and economical to fly. It’s landing gear can rotate to either side for landing during crosswinds so the nose faces the crosswind while flying straight ahead for the landing. Looks weird but works.

  • More

    Russia uses asymmetrical war fare against the USA and NATO who have to spend many US$100’s of Billions per year to counter the Russian “threat”.

    For every US$1 that Russia spends it costs up US$100 or more to NATO countries.

    Russia by flying two gleaming Soviet era TU-95 Bears causes the USA and NATO to spend many US$ 10’s of Billions countering the threat by keeping 100’s of Fighter jets and Surface to Air Missiles active and ready along its route all the way from the Baltic’s, UK, France, Spain, etc.

    Eventually the US / NATO military spend will cause its bankruptcy.