The level of ignorance in that article is very disappointing Austin...
The Tu-160 and Tu-95 are exceptionally new in terms of builds, but technology has moved on and there is an opportunity to replace not just these two strategic bomber types, but also the Tu-22M3 theatre bomber type with just one aircraft... you know... the same as every other branch of the Russian military has been doing... taking advantage of the multipurpose capability of modern electronics to allow one modern type to replace older single function aircraft.
The Tu-95MS is essentially just a flying platform which allows long-range cruise missiles to be launched from outside the range of the adversary’s air defenses. The archaic design of the aircraft (dating back to the early 1950s) and its turboprop engines make it relatively slow and highly visible to the enemy’s radars.
Actually the Tu-95 had an aerodynamic redesign in the 1970s to the Tu-142 standard, and it remains the worlds fastest propeller driven aircraft and the only propeller driven aircraft to actually require swept wings.
At high altitude it is only about 50km/h slower than the B-52, while at lower altitudes it is actually faster than a B-52. It is a stand off cruise missile carrier... its visibility to enemy radars is largely irrelevant unless they are over the horizon radars that can detect targets 5,000km away.
As for the Tu-160, it has failed to live up to the promise of its designers, who envisaged it as a truly versatile aircraft.
Rubbish. It was designed and built as a supersonic cruise missile carrier and that is exactly what it is... the supersonic speed is not to allow it to penetrate enemy air defences, it is to zip in and launch its long range cruise missiles and then rapidly leave the area at high speed to make the positioning of interceptors near anticipated launch areas ineffective.
Owing to the limitations of its design and onboard systems which emerged after the bomber entered service, it has almost never been used to stealthily approach the target at extra-low altitudes.
Its primary weapon was a 3,000km range cruise missile... how close was it supposed to get to its target?
The only role for which it is well-suited is to carry cruise missiles at high speed and high altitude.
Which is exactly what it is designed for and what it does well... next they will be complaining because Russian ICBM warheads are not versatile enough... why couldn't they make an anti submarine version...
The only role for which it is well-suited is to carry cruise missiles at high speed and high altitude.
Which is not even very true actually... there were two primary weapons for the Tu-160, and they were the Kh-15 and Kh-55. The Kh-15 has a range of about 250km and it climbs to 40,000m and then dives onto the target at mach 5 with a rather significant nuclear payload. It is called Kickback in the west... it can carry 12 in one weapon bay leaving room for 6 Kh-55 3,000km range nuclear armed cruise missiles. Now flying over the north pole the Tu-160 will come across all sorts of ground based radars and air bases and while flying supersonically its main threats were going to be large area SAMs which as NATO has found in its various invasions are large and not very mobile and easy to spot and plot on a map to hit with cruise missiles or other weapons.
Obviously the plan is for the Tu-160 to blast over Canadian territory launching Kh-15s at any airbase that shows any sign of life and any known major SAM or Radar position, on their way to their launch position for the primary weapon of their Kh-55s.
Remember even flying at mach 2 all the way it will take at least 3 hours for the Blackjacks to get to Canadian airspace, which means all those ICBMs and SLBMs of both sides have already hit their targets and both air defence networks will be in tatters... I actually think the Blackjack still has a very good chance of getting through even today.
The Russian Air Force therefore has an unmet need for a modern heavy bomber capable of reaching remote and well-protected targets, and attacking them using a broad range of high-precision nuclear or conventional airborne weapons. Another capability a future heavy bomber must have is to take on the enemy’s ships, especially American aircraft carriers and carrier groups, replacing the existing fleet of the Tu-22M3 long-range bombers.
Not strictly true. Russia could soldier on with older technology bombers, the current upgrades should make them much more capable and useful in conventional engagements which will make them more useful than they have ever been before.
The thing is that they have a military upgrade and overhaul program going on that is supposed to introduce all new stuff to replace Soviet designed material. Further this drive focuses on multirole platforms that can do the same job in much smaller numbers with fewer types and more fire power and capability.
The Bear is relatively cheap to operate and there are plenty available but probably well worth replacing. The Tu-160 is much more capable, but also more expensive to operate and maintain, partially because many components were made in the Ukraine and also because there were so few actually built. The Tu-22M3 is a large aircraft for its role and has plenty of growth potential in it yet, but like the swing wing Blackjack is it not cheap to operate and despite being made by the same company (Tu) and having very very similar requirements and performance the engines of these two aircraft are not compatible... which just goes to show the problems created by all the different aircraft that could be solved with one new aircraft to steadily replace them all.
Vladimir Putin has failed to modernize the Russian economic system and kick-start healthy growth, so there is simply not enough money in the treasury to finance the SAP-2020.
Considering that many western economies around the world are showing fraction of single digit growth, I would suggest that Russian figures are actually pretty good. The question I want answered is why is Putin getting all the blame for this. There are no certainties in this world, and the solution to this uncertainty is to plan. If you want fixed rigid plans that never change then you need more certainty... which is hardly possible. The alternative is flexibility in the plan. So what if there needs to be certain cuts in the program? Who cares if the 70% goal is achieved in 2025 instead of 2020?
The point is that you set goals and move to achieve them... it is that progress that is important, and even more importantly at various intervals along the way you evaluate progress to see how things are moving along... some things might need more money, while others might be worth cutting all together. Somethings might simply need to be put on hold for the moment so the funding for it can be moved elsewhere where it might be needed more.
As the prospect of reigning in the scope of the program becomes inevitable, questions are being raised as to where exactly the axe will fall. The PAK DA is extravagantly expensive and will not deliver a usable product for at least a decade, so it appears to be one of the prime candidates.
Again... what is it with this black and white attitude? A future strategic bomber program will not be cut... current aircraft will need replacement at some point. Delays are normal... especially when there is no real conflict that would demand their existence right now. The point is that the Blackjacks and Bears and Backfires will be available for the next couple of decades and with a decent upgrade they can be more versatile aircraft with capabilities tactical aircraft cannot match.
The Russian political leadership probably cannot muster enough political will to cancel the PAK DA altogether – but its financing will have to be slashed, raising further questions about the feasibility of its deadlines (which were never very realistic to begin with).
Very bad reporting... first you say the programme will get the axe... which means cancelled/killed, and then you admit that it probably wont be cancelled and will simply get its funding reduced.
There was nothing unrealistic about its deadlines... flying prototypes by 2020, in service 2025-2030 are not that tight unless it is going to be a mach 20 atmosphere skipper...
The problem is not unique to Russia; it plagues weapons project planning in every developed country, including the United States.
The point you are missing is that a significant amount of Russian technology is developed via the military, and military exports generate a lot of income for Russia. Much of the spending on "defence" is spent within Russia and goes into the Russian economy which is also something this writer seems to be ignoring.
Russia has just entered the WTO and the global recession wont last forever...
The current plans are not set in stone and if they need to be revised they will be...
It is therefore clear that the PAK DA is unlikely to receive sufficient funding, given Russia’s economic situation.
How do you come to that conclusion?
Although you have cut its budget many times in this article you don't fund the program, so in actual fact it is not clear there will be cuts to funding. Putin sees it as an important project and there are a few other areas they can cut funding if they believe that is necessary.
It is therefore clear that the PAK DA is unlikely to receive sufficient funding, given Russia’s economic situation. Owing to a combination of financial and technical problems the program will probably fall well behind schedule. As a result, from time to time the PAK DA will come under massive political pressure and balance on the brink of closure. But the Russian government’s great-power ambitions may well help the program to survive nonetheless, with new moneys being thrown at it in each consecutive budget. Essentially, the PAK DA could degenerate into a typical graft-ridden state program, kept afloat for political motives, costing Russia an arm and a leg, and with any tangible deliverables always just beyond the horizon. Gen Zelin’s cautious projection of the new heavy bombers entering service with the Russian Air Force “some time in the 2030s” therefore looks fairly realistic, and maybe even a bit optimistic.
Again with the weird writing method... start the paragraph saying the sky is falling, then mention that the sky has the support of the government so even if it starts to fall they will prop it up no matter what it takes.
New bombers entering service in the 2030s is pessimistic, not optimistic.
There is no urgent need for new bombers, but a new from scratch design that is simpler and more straight forward... ie no swing wings would be useful and help to reduce costs as having one type perform the mission of three current large aircraft should ultimately save a bit of money as well as improve general performance too.
Finally, even if the PAK DA manages to deliver a minimally usable aircraft, it is not at all certain that the Russian Air Force will be able to buy them in large enough numbers. Owing to their astronomical price tag, the new bombers will probably become the Air Force’s very own white elephants, with only a few units bought for political and PR motives.
They haven't even been built yet but they are already too expensive...
This writer needs to go and dig himself a hole and bury himself now, because everything will always be more expensive in the future and he clearly can't deal with that.
The PAK DA appears to be one of Russia’s most questionable, risky and unnecessary defense programs. It will inevitably cost a fortune, which could be usefully spent on much more pressing defense needs. The sole reason for the existence of this program is to underpin the Russian political and military leadership’s great-power ambitions, whatever the cost, even if the actual military and economic payout of such programs is minimal.
The same could be said about all the money spent on SSBNs which do nothing for the economy and can't even be used in conventional wars... they just sit there soaking up money... like ICBMs do... perhaps Russia should get rid of its entire military and just rely on the kindness of others not to bully them?
PAK DA offers investment in new engine and aircraft technology that could lead to future high speed civilian and military aircraft. If they invest in hypersonic bombers... that will not be cheap, but the resulting aircraft will pave the way for enormous steps forward in access to space... imagine a variable cycle engine that can act like a turbojet from a runway that will let the aircraft climb to altitude and then accelerate to enormous speeds to the point where the scramjet engines can be shut down and small rocket thrusters can guide the aircraft to dock at the international space station... waste of money my backside...