Now you are trying to superimpose the US conops onto the Russian one. In my opinion that's incorrect cause Russian budget and operational strategic needs are nowhere as near as that of the US.
So Russia is not allowed to do things the way America does them in the near future?
What you are basically saying is that because the US spends more money they can afford to use much more expensive platforms to do certain jobs rather more expensively...
Now you are guilty of what you accused Mindstorm of.... it is not cost effective for the US to use bombers flying from the US to bomb targets in Europe or Asia or the ME, but if Russia had to bomb targets in, say Croatia or indeed Libya it would have to fly from Russia as it would have no friendly basing or fly over rights to allow it to use the shorter range aircraft the US could have used if it wanted to.
Dropping relatively small bombs with a B-2 over 12,000km ranges is expensive overkill... they could have used F-16s for that over 200km or less from nearby bases.
For many long range potential uses the long range bomber with a 3K km or now 5K km range cruise missile might be their only airpower option apart from Su-34s with tankers that refuel them 5 or 6 times enroute to the target area. In such cases it makes rather more sense to use heavy bombers and cruise missiles than tactical aircraft AND tankers AND support aircraft AND tankers for those support aircraft etc etc.
Needless to say carrying 8 cruise missiles to targets 3,000km away from your base either means 4 Su-34s with two tankers supporting them or one Tu-22M3M.
And that would be my whole point. I don't know if you realize but what you just said is the strongest possible confirmation of my words. You played into my hands, a sort of. The only conflict that Russia may find itself in a foreseeable future, against a largely inferior opponent, is already well covered by the very capable machine as the su-34, su-25sm and su-24m. You mentioned su-22? I guess you mixed up something.
Future planning is not about what will happen, but what is likely to happen.
I suspect the Su-22M was supposed to be Su-24M with Gefest & T upgrades.
Su-24M, Su-34, and Su-25SM would be very useful for supporting operations near Russia, but for longer range missions they would become a liability in terms of the extra support they would need.
They need the Tu-160M, Tu-95MSM, Tu-22M3M anyway... they are an integral part of the nuclear triad (the latter with tactical nukes on theatre strikes against China and Europe), but their conventional weapon upgrade (they needed upgrades anyway) makes them more flexible and actually cheaper to operate and maintain, and also bring to the table some capabilities that other tactical aircraft cannot offer... a Tu-160M could fly supersonic all the way from Russia to launch distance from the UK in a matter of an hour or two with a payload of 3,000km range or 5,000km range cruise missiles or a range of other weapon types on board... which other aircraft in the Russian inventory could do that?
From the airspace to the north of the UK at Blackjack could fire a conventionally armed stealthy Kh-101 cruise missiles at targets in a range of African nations... the point is that it could do it without tanker support except perhaps a quick top up just after take off... an Su-34 could carry a single Kh-101 perhaps and with tanker support might be able to launch from the same place, but not without planning to have the tanker already in position to refuel it on the way and certainly not at mach 2 all the way with a 2.2 ton cruise missile hanging from its belly.
For some mysterious clandestine reasons, there's an impending nuclear holocaust. And the Russian MoD decides their RSMF and SSBNs are not enough so they scramble the Blackjacks.
Here you blunder... the bomber force is not the last resort least effective... they are the one option Putin has to say he means business... he can have the Blackjacks armed and in the air flying to their setting off points flying orbits getting topped up by aerial tankers just waiting for that word to go... any enemy that ignores such a signal is going to die... because once the signal for them to go is issued at the same time the signal for ICBMs and SLBMs will be issued too. Limited nuclear strikes are a western fabrication.
A magnificent feet of achievement, indeed. What happens with those just launched missiles?
Do you think the air forces of Japan and the US will be intact when the Blackjack launches its missiles?
Even at Mach 2 the SLBMs and ICBMs will start taking apart the Japanese and US air defence network at T plus 15 minutes and T plus 30 minutes respectively... do you really think that at T plus 6 hours there will be any fighters coming up to meet them?
The Bombers for Russia are not and have never had a first strike role to try to take out US nuclear capability... for that you need stealth bombers... getting it yet?
The Kh-22M Burya which travels @4.6M @80000ft altitude.
Heard of Kh-32? Based on Burya, but rather faster and with double the range of the earlier missile... Burya actually travels at something like mach 3.2... it is Kh-32 that travels at mach 4.5.
The M in Tu-160M, Tu-95MSM, Tu-22M3M was a unified upgrade of radars, electronic systems, and weapons...
So actually, all 16 will be M-upgraded. I read about 10.
You have read about 10 to be upgraded.
If so then it's a good move. Anyway, that's what i'm arguing for: more focus on the conventional ability.
The new 5,000km range Kh-101 and Kh-102 are finally accurate enough to have terminal guidance and in the Kh-101s case a conventional warhead.
The Kh-555 is merely a Kh-55SM with the conventional warhead and terminal guidance of the Kh-101/102.
Because of its light weight the range of the missile has gone from 3,000km of the Kh-55SM to 3,500km in the Kh-555 version.
On the contrary, nothing can make tu-160 look better in my eyes. It's an overkill for the realistic Russian defence needs and not very survivable in case of a major nuclear war anyway.
The Tu-160 is a necessary tool in the strategic nuclear role. In the conventional role it might never be used or might be tasked with destroying a deeply buried Afghan base using a FOAB or two... the point is that it needs to be in service till the PAK DA is ready anyway so a decent upgrade will make it cheaper to operate and offer capabilities other Russian military aircraft can't match.
The whole point of MAD is that nothing survives... that is the point.
Unless you think that no NATO radar, airborne ISR nor naval CBG will ever detected it on its approach to the US, during the wartime? One may as well argue it'll suddenly pop up from the ground over New York. But i guess it's good for those cocky speeches during the election time.
All the major US airfields and radar stations are known and largely fixed... as I said above at T plus 5-15 minutes when the SLBMs are flattening things the Blackjacks will likely still be topping up extra fuel just after takeoff and be flying in the direction of their launch positions... at T plus 30 anything that could be called a long range radar in North America will be glowing when the ICBMs start ripping them a new one.
Over Russia it will largely be the same except the B-2s are first strike aircraft and will face fully operational air defence networks... quite a different kettle of fish really... ironic the effective bombers will be flying with explosions happening all around them and are painted white, while the real white elephants are painted black...
Exactly my point! So what do they need it for? To show the world they have something remaining of the super-power status?
Should Russia stand by and let the US do what it wants, when it wants?
What if the US decides to have a go at regime change in Cuba... flying a couple of Tu-160Ms overnight to land in Cuba would be a pretty clear signal to Washington don't you think? And no shot need be fired. Or it could be Venezuela, or Peru.
The Russians need MAD and Tu-160s are part of MAD. If they are going to need to have them anyway, then making them multirole just makes sure they get better value for money.
-they arm their fighters with SAHR missiles, for God's sake! And it's 2013. Even the 9B-1348E seeker (R-77 ARH) was developed in 1990s and lags behind the US/Israeli designs. Plus, it's doubtful how many ARH missiles Russia has at all or they are mostly for export.
The new aircraft entering Russian AF service will be armed with RVV-SD.
And lags behind?
You are not one of those idiots that thinks the best technology always wins are you?
Even the best ARH missile has less than a 50% PK rate against unaware enemies in aircraft with poor ESM equipment... in real combat between modern fighters the majority of kills will actually come from IR guided weapons.
-they still haven't developed the FPA seeker for IR missiles.
-a decade after the US, Russia yet hasn't put AESA in the air.
That is OK because it was three decades from when the Russians have PESA in a fighter interceptor before the US got AESA... did the US suck for those 30 odd years?
Russia would need to seriously rush a FPA seeker missile into service if their current missile was crap. It isn't.
Even the F-22 doesn't have a helmet mounted sight to take advantage of high offboresight targeting... every Russian fighter... even the ones from the 1980s has those...
-the Russian officials constantly complain about insufficient tanker fleet.
The thing is that is not really relevant unless they start flying tactical aircraft on theatre or strategic missions like the US does in Kosovo/serbia/iraq or elsewhere.
-what about flying hours for the crews?
Actually very good for the last 5 years or so. Less real combat experience than NATO but that is hardly their fault.
-ineffective SEAD ability. It's not just about the platform. They lag behind the HARM-D, let alone the HARM-E. Or should we remind ourselves of how dismally the Russian SEAD performed in Georgia?
HARM is junk... they finally have given it some features the AS-11 has had for 30 years... let alone AS-12 and AS-17.
The Georgian attack was a surprise... the US AF response to 11/9 was pretty ordinary too from memory.
The introduction of a few Mi-9 and reportedly a single Su-34 the losses stopped and the SA-11 unit was captured... BTW when was the last time NATO went up against any double digit Russian SAMs?
-how many of their arsenal is comprised of the PGMs in comparison to dumb bombs and unguided rockets?
In 2008 there were very few PGMs... the only platform that would make sense to carry such weapons was the Su-24M.
Things have changed however now that upgraded and new aircraft that can actually use PGMs are entering service.
But keeping the strategic bombers operation will somehow fix everything, no doubt.
You are the one claiming the Blackjack is an expensive white elephant that is no use. I am telling you it is a necessary leg of the nuclear triad, but can be made more useful and cheaper to operate with a major upgrade that will allow its use for strategic and theatre missions.
Needless to say they have built a weapon called the father of all bombs that weighs in the region of 11-12 tons and has a TNT equivalent payload of about 44 tons of HE... do you think a Mig-35 will be carrying that?
The US uses a bomb called a daisy cutter... specifically for clearing areas of jungle to use as helicopter Landing Zones... they use C-130 Hercules low speed transport aircraft to deliver them.
Would you agree that over Afghanistan the Tu-160M would be less vulnerable than an An-12?
If you ask me, improving the SU-25 and TU-22 fleets is ten times more important for true Russian defence needs. And yes, i consider the TU-22 as a very important asset. And it employs one of the most potent anti-ship missiles ever. Thus, i will closely follow what improvements the M3M standard will bring.
So you object to strategic aircraft being upgraded but not other aircraft?
What about when both are getting upgrades?
Yes, and what's the conclusion? The US flew their B2 all the way from the Whiteman AFB to A-stan to drop tonnes of JDAMs. Russia doesn't need an expensive strategic bomber to attack a low-threat target so close to home. They can easily launch SU-34/24 or TU-22 or Iskander from Tajekistan if needed.
Which of those aircraft is cleared to carry the FOAB?
The Tu-22M3M could deliver a very powerful payload, I agree, but not anything from the Russian arsenal... and lets face facts the FOABs is a thermobaric weapon... it would be ideal for wiping out a whole mountains worth of poppy field in one hit and making sure anyone hiding in a cave nearby had their lungs hanging out their mouths too.
There are much more pressing needs in the Russian military (both Army and navy) and defence industry that could benefit from the funds used up by unneeded aircraft for which you won't have any appropriate mission until the end of decade and beyond. Nevertheless, that aircraft will drain your budget all the time.
The whole point of the reform of the Russian military is the realisation that precision conventional weapons are becoming strategic in nature.
During WWII if you wanted to hit a single ball bearing factory you sent a thousand bombers and you pummelled the crap out of the entire area for 4 or 5 nights in a row and if you were lucky a few bombs would hit that factory and work would stop for a few hours. Then came nukes and you could miss by half a city but still take out that ball bearing factory.
The difference is that today a single satellite guided bomb could take that factory out again or conventionally armed cruise missile.
Until Russia has thousands of PGMs in service and all its aircraft are either upgraded to use them or new builds, until Russian pilots are trained to use them then she has to rely on tactical and strategic nuclear weapons systems to ensure her safety.
The Blackjack is part of that security.
They are spending money changing this, but until about 2020 or just after that there is no way they will stop spending on their strategic nuclear capacity... spending a little extra to get a few extra features is just common sense.
And whom is Russia going to bomb that is so far so they need a strategic bomber's range? I understand that having such a prestigious aircraft makes one proud. But i'll be hardly convinced that spending money on it, under current conditions both in military and internationally, is prudent. There are many better ways, in terms of realistic needs, to improve military power. Worrying about a near-impossible nuclear war with the US, for which TU160 could be used, doesn't sound very rational to me.
Assuming the only country Russia will ever come into conflict with as being the US is fairly irrational to me too.
We have seen flights by Tu-160s to Venezuela... the last flight they landed and pictures were revealed as the first clue to the visit.
A US threat to Venezuela regarding a new bout of regime change... what better response than to fly a couple of Tu-160Ms there overnight to show Russian support for the government there.
Imagine if Tu-160s landed in Libya before the west started bombing from their no fly zone? Would France have happily sent in bombers to attack Libyan targets knowing there was a Russian presence there like that?
At the end of the day, do you have a basis that the Tu-160 fleet is so expensive is massively infringes on other sectors of the defense budget? RuAF values the fleet greatly, good enough for me.
The fact that they kept them operational during the 90s when there was no money suggests they are not that expensive to operate.
Sure they didn't fly much, but that was because of a lack of funds for fuel... now they clearly have money for both.