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    Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

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    USAF

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    Russian strategic bombers carry out record nonstop flight

    Post  USAF on Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:06 am

    Two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers are carrying out a 23-hour patrol with a planned flight range of 18,000 kilometers (over 11,000 miles), an Air Force spokesman said on Wednesday.

    "We are expecting this mission to set a record because its duration will exceed the previous achievement by two hours for a total of 23 hours, and its range will reach 18,000 kilometers," Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik said.

    The Tu-160s conducted a similar mission last year and stayed in the air for 21 hours.

    The bombers are flying along the Russian borders and over neutral waters of the Arctic and Pacific oceans.

    They will practice instrumental flight and carry out in-flight refueling from Il-78 aerial tankers.

    The Tu-160 Blackjack is a supersonic, variable-geometry heavy bomber, designed to strike strategic targets with nuclear and conventional weapons deep in continental theaters of operation.

    MOSCOW, June 9 (RIA Novosti)

    http://en.rian.ru/mlitary_news/20100609/159363380.html

    Austin

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    Tu-160 and Tu-95 ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Austin on Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:38 am

    Bears and Blackjacks Are Back. What Next?
    Alexander Stukalin, Kommersant Publishing House
    http://mdb.cast.ru/mdb/4-2010/

    They are coming

    Three years ago Russian strategic bombers resumed their regular patrols off the coast of the United States, Canada and the UK. On August 17, 2007, as many as 17 long-range aircraft took off from the airfields in Olenegorsk, Vorkuta, Monchegorsk, Tiksi, Anadyr, Engels and Shaykovka. They clocked in a combined 165 flight hours that day. Each pair of the supersonic Tu-160 Blackjacks and the turboprop Tu 95MS Bear-H bombers headed for its own patrol area in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Naturally, all that activity did not go unnoticed. Norway, for instance, reported that over a period of 14 hours, 11 Russian planes had appeared near its western borders. ‘’We haven’t seen that kind of activity in a very long time. Not since the early 1990s. It was quite impressive to see,” Brig. Gen. Ole Asak, chief of the Norwegian Joint Air Operations Center, said in an interview with the Associated Press news agency. In the United States it was reported that a pair of Tu-95MS bombers had approached the island of Guam, for the first time since the end of the Cold War.

    Russia’s explanation was not long in coming. President Vladimir Putin, who observed the ‘Peaceful Mission’ – 2007 military exercise on that day, outlined the Kremlin’s official line right at the Chebarkul training range. “In 1992, Russia unilaterally suspended its long-range strategic aviation patrols,” Putin said. “Unfortunately, not everybody followed our example, and other countries have carried on with their own strategic aviation patrols. That poses certain problems for Russia’s security. That is why the decision has been made to resume Russian strategic aviation patrols on a permanent basis.”

    It was just a matter of time

    The Russian president did not specify whose strategic aviation was posing a problem for Russia’s security, and how. But the Kremlin’s decision, and the sharp rise in the activity of Russian strategic aviation, was not unexpected. In fact, it was quite predictable, given all the trends in the previous years. The former commander of the Russian Air Force, Gen Anatoliy Kornukov, listed the resumption of patrols “in combat-designated areas” as one of his key achievements back in 2002. And in 2006 his successor, Army General Vladimir Mikhaylov, was musing about “resuming patrols in parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans”.

    Both generals had good reasons to make such predictions. Suffice is to recall that back in the summer of 1999, during the West-99 strategic command staff exercise, two Tu-160 bombers of the 121st Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment (TBAP) took off from the Engels airbase for a 12 hour flight to the GIUK gap in the Atlantic. In the autumn of the same year, a pair of Tu-95MS aircraft of the 182nd TBAP based in Ukrainka conducted a one-off patrol off the Aleut Islands. The Western military should have taken notice: the sharp drop in the activity of Russian strategic aviation, which had started in 1992, had essentially come to an end as early as 1998.

    The traditional explanation for that drop in Russia itself is that the new democratic government and the bogeyman Yeltsin did not care about military aviation and forced it to survive on a bare pittance. But things aren’t that simple.

    As a matter of fact, Russia had almost no modern strategic aviation left after the collapse of the Soviet Union, apart from the twenty Tu-95MS bombers of the 182nd TBAP in Mozdok. In 1992, Moscow had yet to claw back the forty Tu-95MS bombers that had been left in Kazakhstan after the republic’s independence. It then had to retrain the pilots, who had only had experience with the older Tu-95K version. And it was only just beginning to form a new Tu-160 regiment in Engels. However, Russia’s first simultaneous launches of two air-launched cruise missiles by a pair of Tu-160 bombers came as early as October 1992. In 1996 crews of the Tu-95MS bombers of the 79th TBAP (Ukrainka airbase) and the 182nd TBAP also commenced practical missile launches.* The number of launches was rising every year. In 2000-2007, the 37th Air Army of the Supreme Command (which incorporated all Russian long-range aviation in 1998) was making an average of 10 missile launches every year.

    At the same time Russian strategic aviation pilots were resurrecting the largely lost skill of aerial refueling using the Il-78 Midas aerial refueling tankers. In the spring of 1995, aerial refueling was performed by a Russian Tu 95MS bomber flying non-stop along the Ukrainka-Anadyr-Northern Ocean-Engels route. The following year, crews of the 182nd TBAP also resumed aerial refueling. The Tu-160 pilots had to learn that skill from scratch. In the former Soviet Union the maneuver was performed only a few times in 1987 by elite test pilots. The first routine daytime aerial refueling of a pair of Tu-160 bombers of the 121st TBAP was performed in 2002. The first night-time refueling followed in 2003. At about the same time Russian strategic aviation resumed the regular use of the northern staging airfields. In 2000, after a 10-year pause, the 182nd Regiment (which had already been transferred to Ukrainka) resumed the use of the Tiksi airbase for flights to the North Pole. In 2001, crews of the 184th Regiment (which was relocated back to Engels in 2000) began making use of the operational airfield in Vorkuta.

    In 1999-2000 the 37th Air Army received three Tu-95MS aircraft and eight Tu-160 bombers, which had been sitting on the airfields in Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union. One new Tu-160 bomber was delivered by the manufacturer, the Kazan Aviation Plant (KAPO). That completed the formation of the Russian strategic aviation fleet – no new aircraft have entered service since then. Also in 2000 the fuel quotas allocated to the strategic aviation fleet for patrol flights began to increase. The frequency of such flights grew accordingly, and the bombers started venturing beyond the Russian and CIS borders** with increasing regularity. In 2001 and 2002, pairs of Tu-160 bombers conducted another two patrol flights off the UK coast. In May 2003, two Tu-160 bombers and four Tu-96MS aircraft of the 184th Regiment tested the limits of their range, flying more than 10,000 km in over 12 hours on a training mission over Indian Ocean. In August of the same year a pair of Tu-160 bombers and several Tu-96MS aircraft took off from several airfields in the Far East and conducted patrol flights over a large area from the Arctic Ocean and the Chukchi Peninsula along the coast of Canada and on to the Aleut Islands in the Sea of Japan.

    Flights to the coasts of the United States, Canada, the UK and Norway continued in the following three years. In 2006 the total number of long-range patrol missions surpassed 100. The vast majority of them stayed close to the Russian territory. But in many cases several planes would take off simultaneously from several airfields and head in several different directions. For example, in the autumn of 2006 a pair of Tu-160 and another pair of Tu-95MS took off from the Engels airfield and conducted a 13-hour patrol over the Atlantic, with one aerial refueling. Almost simultaneously, other planes conducted live firing exercises over the Pemboy training range in the north. Meanwhile, several Tu-95MS bombers took off from the Ukrainka airbase in the east of the country. Some of them headed for the Aleut Islands in the Pacific, while others launched two missiles over the northern training range of Khalmer-Yurt. In March 2007 two Tu-95MS bombers of the 184th Regiment flew to the north on a mission that included two aerial refuelings – one near Kotlas, another near Engels. And in July, Russia essentially conducted a somewhat truncated dress rehearsal of a triumphal return of its bombers to “world politics”. Pairs of Tu-160 and Tu-95MS bombers took off from Vorkuta and flew towards Norway, then on to Denmark, the UK and Iceland. Another two Tu-160 bombers took the Engels-North Pole-Baykal route, and several Tu-95MS planes from the Ukrainka airbase flew along their usual routes over the Pacific Ocean. After that flurry of activity, the appearance in August 2007 of 11 Russian long-range bombers off the coast of Norway hardly came as any surprise.

    Growing threats

    According to official reports by the 37th Air Army command, a total of 70 long-range patrols “to various parts of the globe” were conducted in 2007. Their average duration was 12-14 hours. In 2008, the number of such patrols had reached 40 by April 5 and 50 by August 5. During the rest of the year, only 15 more patrols were conducted, for a total of 65, with 662 flight-hours clocked in and 310 tonnes of fuel transferred during aerial refueling. These long-range flights had substantially boosted the average number of flight hours clocked in by the Russian Air Force pilots: from 30-40 hours in 2005-2006 to around 80 hours in 2007 and 100 hours in 2008.

    According to the data released into the public domain (and for some reason the Air Force continues to be fairly secretive with this information), the typical long-range patrol flight lasts 12 hours without aerial refueling, or 15-20 hours with one refueling. The most common destinations (excluding the exotic flight of a pair of Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela in September 2008) remain unchanged since the Soviet times. Most of the time the Russian heavy bombers fly past Scandinavia towards the UK and Iceland and on to the North Atlantic, or via the Arctic towards Alaska and Canada, then on to the Pacific (including the Aleut Islands) and the Sea of Japan. Russia has two heavy bomber regiments stationed in the west of the country (armed with the Tu-160 and Tu-95MS aircraft) and another two in the east (both armed with the Tu-95MS bombers). The number of eastward and westward bound flights is roughly the same. That is confirmed by reports of Russian aircraft being intercepted by fighter aviation of the respective countries. Given that each patrol is usually conducted by a pair of bombers, the figures for 2007 and 2008 translate into 30-35 patrol missions by pairs of bombers per year. The US NORAD Command reported 18 incidents in which Russian bombers were intercepted in 2007, 12 in 2008 and 17 in 2009.

    In 2009-2010, Russian strategic aviation set several records for the duration and range of patrol flights along the so-called “Big Circle” route. The latest two records were set earlier this year. In June 2010, a pair of Tu-160 bombers spent about 24 hours in the air and covered 18,000 km along the route of the Arctic-Bering Strait-Alaskan coast-Japanese Islands-Russia’s southern borders-Engels. They were refueled in the air twice, over the Laptev Sea and near Komsomolsk-upon-Amur. In July 2010, a pair of Tu-95MS took off from Ukrainka and flew around the entire perimeter of the Russian borders and the adjacent seas. The flight lasted 42 hours and 17 minutes, covering a distance of about 30,000 km.

    Another recent record was set in 2008, during the “Stability-2008” strategic command staff exercise, when a Tu 95MS bomber launched its full payload of six cruise missiles over the Pemboy training range in the north. In the former Soviet Union, such a volley missile launch was conducted in 1984 over the Sary-Shagan range as part of a joint exercise of the Soviet Air Force and Air Defense. Apart from the missiles, the Tu-95MS bombers are armed with 23mm guns. Their crews continue to train for defending against fighter jets using those guns. According to official reports of the 37th Air Army command, 35 tactical air battles were conducted during the exercises in 2008, and another 64 tactical firing practices with air targets.

    The Russian Air Force has been using MiG-31 Foxbat interceptors, Su-27 Flanker fighters and A-50 Mainstay AEW aircraft as escorts for the long-range bombers in 2008-2010. New elements of the long-range patrols that have been introduced over the past three years include coordination with the Russian Navy and naval aviation. In February 2008 a pair of Tu-160 bombers took off for a maximum-range patrol mission over the Atlantic (towards the Hebrides and the Lofoten Islands), during which they coordinated their mission with a Northern Fleet strike group led by the Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and were escorted by six Su-33 carrier-based fighters. On several occasions pairs of Tu-160 bombers took off for patrols over the Atlantic simultaneously with the Tu-142M Bear-F long-range anti-submarine aircraft of the Northern Fleet aviation (Kipelovo airbase) as part of a common training scenario.

    False threat

    Several Tu-95MS aircraft were involved in a tactical exercise of the 37th Air Army in the Pacific in February 2008. Two of the bombers flew over the USS Nimitz, forcing the Americans to launch four F/A-18 carrier-based interceptors. Washington later said that one of the Russian planes had conducted a low-altitude fly-by around the American aircraft carrier despite the interceptors. At about the same time, another pair of Tu-95MS bombers was intercepted by Japanese F-15J fighters. Tokyo later said the Russian planes had crossed into Japanese airspace near the Izu archipelago.

    The activity of Russian strategic aviation near the borders of other countries in 2007-2010 triggered an angry diplomatic and political response by the respective parliaments, political parties and several officials - some of them fairly senior. But on the whole, they caused no major scandals. Attempts by some media outlets to portray the bomber patrol missions as an act of aggression were soon dampened by official statements saying that there were no violations of international borders, that the Russians were not showing any obvious signs of aggression, and that all their patrol missions were being kept in check. But the patrols did cause a few unpleasant surprises for the Western military and their governments, the fly-by around the USS Nimitz being one of them. Another recent incident came on August 24-25, when a pair of Tu-95MS bombers unexpectedly showed up about 30 miles off the Canadian border (near Inuvik, Northwest Territories). Interestingly, the Russian MoD had officially announced to the media shortly before the incident that its Tu-95MS aircraft would be heading eastwards for a long-range patrol, but the designated patrol area was the Aleut Islands. It therefore remains unclear whether it was the same pair of bombers. Theoretically this is possible, given that the duration of their mission was later said to have been 16 hours, with one aerial refueling. Alternatively, there could have been two different pairs of bombers, one heading for the Aleut Islands and another for the Canadian border, probably after taking off from the Ukrainka airbase.

    Incidents like these have lent credence to those in the West who say that the Russian threat is growing and needs to be countered. But these claims fail to take into account the actual state of affairs in Russia. A lot can be said about the political expediency – or lack thereof – of sending Russian strategic bombers to the borders of the countries which are no longer considered to be Russia’s enemies. One can also argue about how comfortably these bomber patrols sit with Russia’s own declarations of a “reset” in its relations with the United States. But what is beyond any doubt is that there will be no further growth in the activity of the Russian Tu-160 and Tu-95MS bombers. They should not be seen as a growing threat. Russia’s strategic aviation has already reached the limit of its capabilities. Any further improvement of these capabilities is being held back by a number of very serious problems which are, to all intents and purposes, beyond Russia’s ability to fix.

    No aerial refueling tankers

    The most serious problem that affects the operational capabilities of Russian strategic aviation is the shortage of aerial refueling tankers. That shortage puts a strict limit on the number of patrol missions per year and on the number of bombers that can be involved in each individual mission. The 37th Air Army command has stated on several occasions that in order to be fully effective, the Russian strategic aviation fleet needs to have a 1:1 ratio between the bombers and the tankers. In other words, there should be a regiment of aerial refueling tankers for each regiment of heavy bombers. As of 2009, Russia had 78 operational heavy bombers (15 Tu-160 and 63 Tu-95MS aircraft in four regiments) and only 20 aerial refueling tankers (eight Il-78 and 12 Il-78M aircraft, all made before 1994) of the 203rd Air Tanker Aviation Regiment (APSZ). The technical state of these planes leaves much to be desired. When the 203rd APSZ Regiment was being relocated from Engels to the Dyagilevo airbase near Ryazan, only 13 of its 20 aircraft were airworthy. That proportion has increased lately, but some of the planes are always grounded for repairs, maintenance or refitting to extend their service life.

    The 203rd APSZ is the only tanker regiment in the entire Russian Air Force. For that reason, some of its planes are often diverted for other uses, such as test flights and training missions involving front-line, fighter and naval aviation. At the very peak of the crisis in the Russian Air Force, which came in the mid-1990s, the number of the Tu-95MS missions that involved aerial refueling was in the single digits. But the tankers of the 203rd APSZ were quite busy refueling other types of aircraft. They performed 102 refueling missions in 1995 and more than 200 in 1996. In 2002-2003 an average aerial refueling tanker pilot had clocked in more than three times as many flight hours as an average bomber pilot. In recent years, the 203rd APSZ has been even busier. In 2010, Il-78 tankers were involved in a large number of tactical aviation exercises and training missions. These missions involved refueling Su-34 Fullback, Su-30 Flanker and Su-24M Fencer strike aircraft based at the Lipetsk airbase, Su-24M aircraft from the airbases in Voronezh, Morozovsk and Khurba, and Tu-142M long-range anti-submarine aircraft of the Naval Aviation squadron in Kipelovo. In this long line for aerial refueling services, strategic aviation usually comes last. Figures released to the public domain indicate that only two to four Il-78 tankers are usually involved in long-range strategic aviation missions. Only on one occasion, during the large exercise in February 2008, as many as eight tankers were taking part. Another thing to consider is that such heavy use of all the available Russian aerial refueling tankers brings the end of their service lives so much nearer – and there are no plans at the moment to buy new ones.

    Nothing in the pipeline

    The strategic bomber regiments are facing the same problem, now that their planes spend more time in the air. All the Russian Tu-95MS bombers were made before 1994. The Tu-160 aircraft entered service over the period of 1986-2007. Speaking shortly after his appointment in 2002, the commander of the 37th Air Army, Maj. Gen. Igor Khvorov said that the Tu-95MS, Tu-160 and Il-78 fleets “can stay in the air at least until 2015”. It was also said that the bombers would be upgraded to extend their service life and to arm them with new high-precision non-nuclear weapons. But later on, Gen. Khvorov’s successors, as well as successive commanders of the entire Russian Air Force, changed their tune. They said the existing planes could serve for another 40 or 50 years, and stopped making promises about massive upgrade programs. The number of bombers that have actually been upgraded is in the single digits – these planes are essentially prototypes. For the Tu-160 aircraft, the actual term “upgrade” has been phased out in favor of “restorative maintenance”, which is performed on just one or two planes each year by the manufacturer in Kazan. For the Tu-95MS bombers, the new word is “modernization”. Both of these new terms essentially boil down to routine repairs and replacement of some components in the hope that one day the bombers will receive proper upgrades, including new weapons and avionics, especially targeting and navigation systems.

    Meanwhile, analysis of the bomber fleet maintenance contracts announced by the MoD in 2007-2010 points to several worrying trends. Some of the Tu-160 planes (including one made in 1999) have developed cracks in the integral tank, and there is extensive corrosion damage in the leading-edge wing assembly. Some elements of the control systems require serious repairs to extend their service life, as do the struts of the main landing gear. The Tu-95MS fleet has also developed problems with the integral tanks, which need to be repaired or replaced entirely. The structure of the wing needs to be reinforced across the whole fleet.

    Another serious problem for both fleets is the engines, which are no longer in production. The service life of the Kuznetsov NK-32 turbofan engines (Tu-160) has now been extended to 21 years, and of the Kuznetsov NK-12MP turboprop engines (Tu-95MS) to 24 years. Analysis of the repair contracts announced by the MoD suggests that the engines are a much bigger headache than the rest of the planes. The NK-32 engines has serious issues with the blades, as well as with its numerous pumps, valves and filters. Apart from these ailments, which are typical for this model, the engines show increased vibration and consumption of oil; their rotors are out of balance, and their thrust vector guidance systems are failing or performing outside specification. All of this shows that the NK-32 engines are not going to last forever. In fact, this particular model suffers from numerous inherent weaknesses. The engine was allowed to enter service with the Air Force after the first stage of official trials; the problems identified during that first stage were never fixed. If Russia wants to keep the frequency of its long-range bomber patrol missions at the levels seen in 2007-2009, it will have to spend more and more on repairs and maintenance for the planes and especially their engines. Otherwise it risks losing the planes and their crews. There have already been several wake-up calls. In 2002 one of the engines of a Tu-95MS bomber belonging to the 184th TBAP cathes fire in mid-flight, but the crew managed to land the plane at its home airfield. In 2003, a Tu-160 aircraft made in 1992 crashed after its main integral tank disintegrated. Its entire crew was killed.

    No rescue

    The risk of one of the long-range bombers crashing is another factor that has seriously affected Russia’s plans for the use of its strategic aviation fleet. If a plane goes down somewhere far away from the homeland, there is next to no chance of a successful rescue mission. Commanders of the 37th Air Army have often complained that there are not enough MSK rescue suits or unique Baklan diving suits that every Tu-160 crew member is supposed to have – but even that is not the main problem. The Soviet Union could afford to equip all the bomber crews with all the necessary rescue gear. But when Soviet planes (including Tu-95 and An-22 aircraft) went down somewhere far out in the ocean, their crews were always lost. The latest incident involved a Tu-142MZ long-range anti-submarine aircraft of the Pacific Fleet Aviation, which was lost in the Tatar Strait in November 2009, only 20km away from the shore. None of its 11 crew members survived. The Tu-142MZ model has the same airframe and engines as the Tu-95MS bomber. Even if the crew (four people for Tu-160 and seven for Tu-95MS) survive the actual crash somewhere far in the Arctic, Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, they cannot expect swift rescue by the Russian Air Force or Navy. These services have never had the technical means or the overall capability to pull off such a rescue. The loss of even a single plane would lead to a long pause in long-range patrols until the causes are established – which is next to impossible to do with any degree of certainty when the plane and its crew disappear without a trace. Senior commanders would then be extremely cautious about ordering a resumption of such patrols.

    It is therefore safe to assert that the Russian strategic aviation has restored only a small fraction of the capability once possessed by the Soviet Air Force. In Soviet times, Moscow could afford to send up to a squadron of Tu-95 bombers to the Atlantic or the US shores, and up to a whole regiment to the Soviet sector of the Arctic. It took Russia almost a whole decade to resume the small-scale and infrequent long-range patrol missions – and these patrols are in fact the limit of Moscow’s current capabilities. Any further progress will require a very radical increase in the Air Force funding and procurement programs.

    * The 182nd Regiment went through three relocations (Mozdok to Engels to Mozdok and finally back to Engels) in 1992-1994 due to the instability in the North Caucasus.

    ** On several occasions over the past decade the Russian strategic bombers landed at airbases in Belarus; they also took part in CIS air defense exercises.
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    nightcrawler

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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  nightcrawler on Sat Jan 08, 2011 4:23 pm

    Good article Austin
    I always admire your posting valuable articles; hoping you share an ebook about those bomber planes..........

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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Austin on Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:09 pm

    nightcrawler wrote:Good article Austin
    I always admire your posting valuable articles; hoping you share an ebook about those bomber planes..........

    Thanks , I really do not have the softcopy of bomber ebook but incase i come across i will definitely put it up.
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  GarryB on Sun Jan 09, 2011 3:38 am

    I hope those looking at developing the PAK-DA read this article and learn a bit from it.

    For example some sort of escape capsule that can float and keep the crew alive even in a freezing water environment might be useful.

    Having a modular design so that a very large payload can be carried over theatre distances for a conventional mission while at the same time able to replace that large conventional load with a strategic load that could even just be external with the internal capacity for fuel greatly increased to minimise the need for inflight refuelling.
    Even having large external fuel tanks for the initial subsonic flight to the north pole area that are dropped to reduce drag for the rest of the flight instead of external weapon carriage so stealth near enemy territory can be maintained.

    Obviously a few Tu-214s converted to refuelling aircraft for tactical aircraft like the Su-24 and Su-34s and some Il-96s converted to inflight refuelling aircraft too would solve some problems as well.

    And of course developing a new engine based on 5th gen technologies could be very useful... something in the 25-30 ton thrust range if it proves reliable enough could be fitted to the Tu-22M, the Tu-160, and the Bears... (with 2, 4, and 2 engines involved respectively). This could extend the lives of these aircraft without changing their performance too much.

    Used in the PAK-DA a flying wing design able to supercruise would be a rather potent system yet not be too expensive or ambitious.
    It doesn't even need to actually supercruise... going into a small dive or apply the AB to cross into supersonic speed and then go back to dry power to maintain that speed would be fine.
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Hoof on Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:05 am

    GarryB wrote:I hope those looking at developing the PAK-DA read this article and learn a bit from it.

    For example some sort of escape capsule that can float and keep the crew alive even in a freezing water environment might be useful.

    Having a modular design so that a very large payload can be carried over theatre distances for a conventional mission while at the same time able to replace that large conventional load with a strategic load that could even just be external with the internal capacity for fuel greatly increased to minimise the need for inflight refuelling.
    Even having large external fuel tanks for the initial subsonic flight to the north pole area that are dropped to reduce drag for the rest of the flight instead of external weapon carriage so stealth near enemy territory can be maintained.

    it doesn't even need to actually supercruise... going into a small dive or apply the AB to cross into supersonic speed and then go back to dry power to maintain that speed would be fine.

    Does it look bright for Pak-DA, or is it something that not going to be ordered, instead Russia will have to fly on tu-95s until they all fall to disrepair...

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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Austin on Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:31 am

    A nice photo of Tu-95MS

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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Hoof on Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:37 am

    Austin wrote:A nice photo of Tu-95MS


    This is so pretty ! I took a lot of picture of sun-downs but none of them have planes on them.... i might wanna take a picture of F16 during sundown with a mountains on the background... its possible =D
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  GarryB on Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:13 am

    Does it look bright for Pak-DA, or is it something that not going to be ordered, instead Russia will have to fly on tu-95s until they all fall to disrepair...

    Well you work for an air force that has kept the B-52s operational for half a century and plan to keep them operational for another half century too.

    There is no reason why the Bear couldn't do the same, the Tu-95s in service now are actually Tu-142s with upgraded wings and airframes that were made between 1986 and about 1994 so they are actually younger than most of the B-1Bs the US operate of which the final 100th B-1B was produced in 1988.

    The layman looks at the Tu-95 and thinks WWII bomber because of the propellers, but the engines are not radials or piston engines, they are jet engines... turboprop engines.

    The PAK-DA program exists and is funded but the time scales are not urgent.
    Basically the plan seems to be for a relatively stealthy aircraft with a strategic range with a strategic payload, and over a theatre range a heavy conventional payload and long loiter times, with an airframe that can replace the Tu-95, Tu-160, and Tu-22M3.
    Given the above article perhaps another purpose could be as an inflight refuelling tanker as well perhaps?

    The current negotiated START treaty has reduced strategic weapons to 1,500 per side, which means the strategic bombers need to be able to carry 500 warheads to various targets.
    If the PAK-DA carries 5 warheads per aircraft that means Russia will need 100, which is a lot, but then for conventional and strategic use you don't want to limit yourself too much.
    Perhaps a more manageable number would be 50 aircraft... if they are stealthy and subsonic with a very low drag shape, efficient engines etc giving them long range then a mix of 6 long range cruise missiles and 4 medium range cruise missiles would be a useful load.

    AFAIK they are not even going to be at the mockup stage till 2018 with entry into service 2025 or later.

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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Austin on Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:50 am

    Here is Yefim Gordon book on Tu-95 and Tu-142 , Enjoy !

    Download Link

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    Hoof

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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Hoof on Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:08 am

    It would be nice to see Russia go through full re-armament... Just wonder for how long equipment that was made in USSR going to be used for... I mean, sure it gets the job done, but enemy gets more and more technological... I mean everything has a limit... take ammo for example... in my Russian surplus 5.45x39 ammo, that was made in 1985... i found at least 3 duds in about 300 shells... point is that things are not made in big numbers as they used to, and equipment now ages faster than it being replaced...

    but as i found out in 2008... Good soldiers with old equipment can still kick a lot of ass =)
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  GarryB on Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:37 am

    The problem is what to replace first.

    Right now everyone has their hands out for all new stuff, personally I think a proper management system where old stock is used for training and new stuff is kept as an operational reserve for combat, though batches from all periods of storage is used periodically to check it is still OK would be the ideal solution.

    Anything dangerous should be disposed of, anything likely to lead to duds sold to commercial markets as cheap ammo that still makes you some money that can be put to new production ammo.
    For a hunter a few dud rounds is ok for the cheap ammo.
    Obviously more of a problem for a soldier in combat, but not the end of the world either.

    The problem is priorities and the overall priorities in the Russian military seem to be the Strategic nuclear forces, the air force and the navy... largely because they have suffered the most from decades of neglect.

    For the ground forces part of the problem is dealing with material in storage.

    I remember reading a complaint letter from Bazalt at a rumour that the Russian AF will not buy dumb bombs for the next 5 years because they have so many in storage... the point of course being that if you want to keep x level of production capacity then you need to keep production healthy... either through exports or local orders.

    An obvious solution would be a political one where large numbers of in storage munitions are gifted to a friendly nation to encourage military orders. The Russian military then get funding to replace those stocks with new munitions so the Military Industrial Complex not only makes more for the Russian Military, who get newer munitions, but might also snag an order from the state that has the material gifted to it to deliver that ordinance.
    The US has been doing this for decades... and they believe all this aide is for the recipient and not for the US MIC.

    Part of the problem is the cost of buying all new kit that is considered "modern" makes it all very very expensive so earlier plans to have it done sooner need to be adjusted... quite often.

    Another problem is of course with munitions becoming smarter and more expensive that the military will more and more prefer simulations over actual ordinance to reduce the costs of exercises.
    As munitions get more sophisticated they also start to cost more so it gets harder and harder to justify using them in training.

    For instance firing off some RPG rounds is quite normal with training versions without HE warheads (usually black warheads) for safety reasons.
    Replace the infantry standard RPG-7 with something like Javelin and all of a sudden firing one missile becomes very very expensive so training simulators are used more and more so even less and less munitions are actually used in training.

    Perhaps the solution is two types of training... training with the old cheaper stuff and simulator training with the expensive stuff.
    The cost of realistic training will be reduced by the cheaper munitions from stocks, while the simulator training will be cheap because no munitions will actually be expended.
    In the realistic training a few modern weapons can be used to ensure stocks are OK (and are not duds) so the soldiers will get a real feel for the use of the munitions they will be equipped with in real combat if that occurs.
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Hoof on Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:24 am

    well... I'm sure there are a lot of nations out there, that could use even outdated weapons. I'm sure as soon as afghanistan will stabilize, more or less... their government could use some fighters/bombers... heck they could even use mig-21s and mig-23s... they wont be getting any of the new stuff... even f-16s would be too pricey for them...

    If Russia could sell some of the old weapons and munitions, it would do more good than spontaneously exploding after being in storage for 40 years... and I'm sure there are tanks that are going to turn to rust, because there is no way that they will be used... Russia could make more money selling them, instead of cutting them up and smelting them down...

    I do like that system Garry. If you consider that its a lot cheaper to repair old equipment, rather than new. I would rather have a new soldier to drive t-55 or t-62, before they get their hands on t-90...
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  GarryB on Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:03 am

    I remember myself as a kid learning to drive on an old clunker. The only danger was if I hit something that was worth something so it was a case of third party insurance.

    Learning the basics of driving and operating a car doesn't require the newest most state of the art machine... in fact considering the wear and tear on it it is perhaps better if it isn't expensive.

    The current Russian situation with MBTs from T-55s through to T-90s means tank guns from 100mm rifled through 115mm smooth bore to 125mm smooth bore, and the equivalent towed guns in similar calibres.

    Being able to remove 10,000 tanks from storage and donating them can at one time reduce costs, improve relations, reduce diversity where diversity is not wanted (ie reduce engine types, main gun calibres, transmission types, etc etc). Along with the tanks you can dispense with spares and ammo including spares making factories and tool sets and ammo making factories and equipment and donate it all to a country you want good will from... they my pay for it with products you currently import from a country that charges you too much.
    Or it can simply be a gift to reduce your own operating costs and improve their situation regarding their perhaps hostile neighbours.

    It is obviously important that the recipient can use the material and you are not just dumping your crap on them of course.

    Some material will not be of use to anyone, like many of the aircraft in storage that have been used to their airframe life limits... often it makes more sense to make new aircraft than overhaul to zero hours and continue to use.

    That is OK as air defence forces need one off drone targets that act like real aircraft, Tank firing ranges are always more interesting with realistic armour for targets. New Ammo can be tested against realistic armour with or without upgrades and of course armour upgrades can be best tested with real tank shells.

    New Ammo and new propellents need to be developed and old hulls can be used for cheap testing.

    The final solution will be a mix of cheap gifts, gifts with minor upgrades to make them more suitable, test targets, and scrap. There are probably a few items that will go directly to museums and even private collections too.

    Of course the Mig-21-98 upgrade or the Mig-23-98 would make a potent little fighter for any third world country not able to afford the state of the art.

    I just hope the Russian MIC remembers that while state of the Art weapons are its future with the Russian military that sometimes numbers are important too and that a cost effective modest product that does the job at low cost to buy and operate can sometimes be a much better product... especially for countries that are actually rather unlikely to see real full scale war but have large territories like Russia.
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Hoof on Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:42 am

    GarryB wrote: especially for countries that are actually rather unlikely to see real full scale war but have large territories like Russia.

    Like Kazakhstan ? Possibly Afghanistan, once its stabilizes... lets not forget Iraq, by the way, Does Iraq has anything other than infantry anymore ?
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  GarryB on Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:04 am

    I thought their might be huge potential for rearming the Iraqi and Afghan forces, but then you hear about the new 13 billion dollars worth of gear the Iraqis are "buying" from the US with another purchase in a few years time of similar value and I kinda think that apart from selling both countries a few good helos that the US will likely try to make back some of the money it has spend on these countries in the last decade or three.

    The Russians already wrote off 12 billion in arms debt to Iraq I hardly think they are going to make the same mistake twice.
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Russian Patriot on Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:07 am


    Russia lifts ban on Tu-95 bomber flights

    RIA Novosti

    15:49 12/01/2011

    MOSCOW, January 12 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Air Force has lifted a ban on the flights of Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers imposed after an An-22 Cock transport plane was destroyed in a crash last December.

    The plane crashed in the Tula Region on December 28, killing all 12 crew members.

    The Air Force decided to ground all Tu-95s and An-22s because both aircraft types share the Kuznetsov NK-12 turboprop, whose failure was suspected as the main cause of the crash.

    The An-22 remains the largest turboprop-powered aircraft in the world. Around 45 remain in service with the Russian Air Force and most are over 40 years old.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/russia/2011/russia-110112-rianovosti02.htm
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  GarryB on Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:44 am

    Good news... means it was not the engines at fault.

    I wonder if there will be an option to reengine the Bear and An-22... of course the An-22 is more in need of a replacement than the Bear I think a better move would be to revisit the Il-106 program and further develop the engines to fit them to the remaining An-22s and Bears.

    Unlike with jet engines the An-22s and Bears are never going to get much faster because of the speed limits of turboprop aircraft... the only improvement would be more thrust for easier takeoffs and heavier loads or better fuel efficiency for longer range.

    The 80 ton payload of the Il-106 would make it capable of transporting in one piece western MBTs which would mean competition with the C-17 for the first time... I could see the French buying such an aircraft, though politics will effect sales to other western countries I think the price difference will make some interesting sales.
    It will also be an aircraft very useful to the Russian AF... the An-22 is a useful aircraft and this aircraft could replace it and it is a Russian design so the hassle of copyright and maintainence from approved shops wont be in a foreign country like it currently is with Antonov.
    From what I have read the engines are ready and world standard and could be fitted to the Bears as a bonus.
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  GarryB on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:22 am

    According to this page:

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/il-106.htm

    ...the NK-93 engines generate about 18,000 kgf of thrust compared to the NK-12MP turboprops that generate 10,000 kgf.

    Their fuel efficiency and power mean you could improve performance of the Bear by a significant measure with 4 engines or even just two if the engines proved reliable enough (with 4 you can greatly improve acceleration and probably increase weapon and fuel weights, though top speed will not likely be effected too much, with 2 engines you would greatly reduce drag and greatly extend range which could lead to the offloading of extra fuel to carry more weapons further without sacrifices in speed or ceiling etc).

    Of course the page (link) is all speculation, but the engine is developed already so it is hardly vapour ware... it just needs the cash.

    Any suggestion of the Il-106 now would of course have to allow for a complete revision of its design with a lot more composites added to reduce weight and improve performance but the An-22 is clearly still in use so there is clearly a use for such an aircraft.

    The capacity to carry 80 tonnes 5,000km would make it attractive to India I would guess as a way to quickly deploy all their tank types in an emergency to anywhere in India.

    An old saying says if the only tool you have is a hammer then treat every problem like it is a nail. A more complete tool set means options to do a better job.

    The conflict in Afghanistan showed that in hot and high conditions without a helo like the Ka-226 the Soviet Army had to resort to using Mi-8s to deliver post to mountain top bases when a much smaller, lighter, more agile, and most importantly cheaper Ka-226 could have done a better job.
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  Cyberspec on Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:46 am

    Omsk plant to revive production of engines for the Tu-160

    ..."The Siberian company will acquire a number of important components and assemblies. OMO-Baranov signed a preliminary agreement with the parent company of the project,"Kuznetsov-Samara aircraft engine plant".

    According to the regional government, the first NK-32 is planned to be built by 2013. A few dozen such engines are planned to be built by 2020...

    http://www.aviaport.ru/digest/2011/09/05/221129.html
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  GarryB on Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:32 pm

    That is disappointing news actually.

    The fact that they are just going to make the NK-32 engine rather than a newer design based on the progress in materials and engine technology since the early 1980s when the T-160 was designed is disappointing in itself, but the fact that they only plan to make a couple of dozen by 2020 clearly shows there is no intention of re-engining the Tu-22M3s too.

    If you asked me I would say that making a few dozen engines over a period of 7 years is pretty inefficient and that because updating the aircraft is going ahead that it makes sense to update the engines and perhaps unify the two engine types in the Blackjack and the Backfire into one new more modern engine type. There is potential to create a series of new engine types based on either the NK-25 or NK-32 and to develop them in a series of stages just as they are doing with the Al-31 to create an all new 5th gen engine.

    The engine in this case could eventually be fitted to the PAK DA and might allow it to supercruise... which would be enormously more useful than just having an AB sprint capability of mach 2 or whatever.
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  George1 on Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:27 am

    Tu-160 production has been restarted?
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  GarryB on Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:14 pm

    A few unfinished airframes were completed, but the complex and expensive main beam structure made of a large solid piece of Aluminium was made in the Ukraine in a factory that no longer exists.

    Otherwise they would likely build another 40-50 Blackjacks and retire a few Bears.

    What they will likely actually do is upgrade the existing Bears and Blackjacks and keep them in operation for the next 10 years or so and by about 2022 they will likely introduce a new strategic bomber to replace the Bear and Blackjack.

    They talk about upgrading the Backfire too.

    The new aircraft will be both a strategic and a theatre range bomber, with a rather heavy theatre range payload, while the strategic range will come from reduced payload plus extra onboard fuel.

    Most fan art shows the Sukhoi T-4S based design, but I think a flying wing configuration optimised for supercruise performance might combine high overall speed with low radar cross section.

    Such a platform could perform the roles of strategic and theatre bomber, and at the same time could be adapted to the long range interceptor role and perhaps maritime patrol and several other roles like recon etc.

    So on paper it could not only replace the Tu-95 and Tu-160 and Tu-22M3, it could also replace the Mig-31, and the Tu-142 and Il-38, and the Tu-22MR and Su-24MR as well.

    The other option might simply be a more modern Tu-160.
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  George1 on Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:33 pm

    I think that they could keep Blackjacks in operation for many years after 2022.
    Tu-160 could be assigned the conventional role like the B-1 in USA and the PAK-DA for nuclear bomber role.

    A maritime patrol variant of Tu-160 also could be considered for the replacement of long range Tu-142.

    A view of the russian bombers could be this for the next decade:

    Strategic bomber: PAK-DA
    Conventional bomber: Tu-160
    Fighter Bomber: Su-34
    Strike Fighter: Su-30
    Attack aircraft: Su-25SM
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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

    Post  GarryB on Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:01 am

    The economic reality is that the T-95 is cheaper to operate than the Tu-160.
    The military reality is that the Russians haven't had strategic bombers for decades now, as they have had the Tu-22M3, which is a theatre range aircraft, while the Blackjack and Bear are cruise missile carrier aircraft.

    With new upgrades all three aircraft are supposed to get compatibility with guided air to ground weapons and a range of conventional weapons up to an including the father of all bombs.

    Unlike the US B-52s the Tu-95 is actually based on the redesigned Tu-142, which has new wings and other new features designed in the late 1970s, and the aircraft themselves were built in the 1980s and 1990s, as were the Blackjacks, so they are still very young aircraft.

    With efficient, modern 5th gen engines the new PAK DA might be able to supercruise at mach 1.5 or so, which is slower than the current Blackjack and Backfire, but on long flights works out faster because of the higher average speed over a subsonic aircraft that has a supersonic dash over the target area.

    The point is that the new aircraft will still largely be a cruise missile carrier that never needs to get closer than about 4,000km distance from its targets as it will be using 5,000km range cruise missiles on strategic missions. For theatre missions a payload of 30-40 tons of satellite guided munitions would be plenty and with a range of weapon weights would allow a range of targets to be engaged with long loiter times and combat persistence.

    Very simply an aerodynamic flying wing shape, that can supercuise and was relatively stealthy with a theatre range payload of 40-50 tons, with 25-35 tons of weapon capacity replaced with extra fuel on strategic missions leaving 15 tons for a cruise missile payload of 6 missiles or so internally would be fine.

    Remember having super strategic bombers able to carry 30 cruise missiles will just mean you will only be allowed 20 aircraft or so under START.

    Like the Boreys, a reduced number per vessel with more vessels means better coverage of targets and more targets to deal with for the enemy.

    The Tu-160 is optimised for range and speed... the range is useful in maritime patrol aircraft, but a lot of flight time for an MPA is at low level and subsonic speed.

    The Tu-142 already has a problem that when communicating with subs that are submerged it releases a wire antenna that is several kms long and to keep it near vertical it has to fly dangerously near its stalling speed.

    With its swing wings and high lift devices on its wings the Blackjack could probably fly slower more safely than the swept wing Bear, but the purpose of the Blackjack is high speed penetration of enemy airspace.

    If the PAK DA is a flying wing configuration aircraft with very long range and the ability to fly relatively slow or fast then I think it might have potential (with perhaps engines optimised for lower speeds) in the MPA role, but I think a long range interception role like the Tu-128 Fiddler might be an option.

    There wont be a PAK DA flying till at least 2018, and more likely 2020.

    I personally think developing a new 5th gen engine based on the NK-32 that could be fitted to the current Tu-22M3 and Tu-160 would be well worth the money spent. Making them for the Tu-160 alone would make it more expensive as there are rather more Backfires than Blackjacks, so even though the Backfire only uses two engines... currently of a different type (NK-25) but with basically similar performance and specs, that they could do with the bombers what they are doing with the fighters at the moment.

    The Su-35 benefits from the improvements made to the PAK FAs engines, and rather more importantly doing this with the bombers means improved compatibility as the new engine will replace two older engines and its development will not only lead to an optimised new engine for the PAK DA, but the existing in service aircraft will also benefit from its development.

    Perhaps they could even develop a propfan version for the Tu-95 and Tu-142? If it is powerful enough and reliable enough they could fit two to each An-70 instead of the 4 currently planned.

    A view of the russian bombers could be this for the next decade:

    Strategic bomber: PAK-DA
    Conventional bomber: Tu-160
    Fighter Bomber: Su-34
    Strike Fighter: Su-30
    Attack aircraft: Su-25SM

    For the next decade I would think things would stay largely as they are with:

    Strategic bomber: Tu-160, Tu-95
    Theatre bomber: Tu-22M3
    Long range strike: Bomber: Su-34 (and reducing numbers of Su-24)
    Fighter/bomber: Su-35 (and Mig-35 if it enters service)
    Attack aircraft: Su-25SM

    Note my changes to your categories are based on the fact that there are strategic and theatre bomber roles and both might include conventional or nuclear payloads.
    Also the Su-30MKI in Indian service is a swing fighter/bomber, but the Su-30 in Russian service is largely an interceptor/airborne command aircraft... sort of a mini AWACS aircraft that uses its superior radar to direct smaller (Mig-29s) or older models (Su-27) on intercept missions so that it can use its superior radar and electronics, while the smaller or older aircraft operate in electronic silence receiving target data from the Su-30 and operating closer to the enemy so they can fire and then withdraw with the Su-30 managing the engagement.

    It means the Su-30 can stand off, and engage lots of targets without using its own missiles, while the less capable aircraft benefit from its radar while remaining silent their closer proximity to the target means they can fire and their missiles will arrive much quicker than if the Su-30 had fired its own missiles. After firing the fighter can turn away and accelerate and climb... a very difficult target for a BVR missile... and apart from launching a missile it has done nothing to give away its position or even its presence.

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    Re: Tu-160 and Tu-95MS ( Blackjack and Bears )

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