- Tupolev Tu-95
name = Tu-95
Strategic bomber, missile carrier, airborne surveillance
caption = Tu-95MR
first flight =
12 November 1952
introduced = 1956 (MS — 1981)
status = Active in service
primary user =
Soviet Air Force
more users =
Soviet Navy Russian Air Force
number built = 500+Fact|date=September 2008
unit cost =
variants with their own articles =
Tupolev Tu-114 Tupolev Tu-119 Tupolev Tu-142
TupolevTu-95 ( _ru. Туполев Ту–95, NATO reporting name: Bear) is the most successful and longest-serving Tupolev strategic bomberand missile carrier built by the Soviet Unionduring the Cold War.
The Tu-95 is still in service, as of 2008, and is expected to remain in service with the Russian Air Force until at least 2040. [ [http://lenta.ru/articles/2007/07/19/tu95/ Lenta.ru: Оружие: Возвращение летающего медведя ] ] The Tu-95 is powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12 turboprop engines, each driving
contra-rotating propellers, and remains the fastest propeller-driven aircraft to go into operational use. Its wings are swept back at 35 degrees, a very sharp angle by the standards of propeller-driven aircraft.
To date, it remains the only turboprop-powered strategic bomber to have entered operational service. A naval development of the bomber is designated Tu-142.
Design and development
The design bureau led by
Andrei Tupolevdesigned the Soviet Union's first intercontinental bomber, the 1949 Tu-85, a scaled up version of the Tu-4, a B-29 Superfortresscopy. The Tu-85 was deemed to be inadequate against the new generation of American all-weather interceptors. A new requirement was issued to both Tupolev and Myasishchev design bureaus in 1950, it had to have an un-refuelled range of 8000km (4,970 miles), far enough to threaten key targets in the United States. Other goals included the ability to carry a 11000kg (24,250lb) load over the target. The big problem for Tupolev was the engine choice, the first generation jet engines had a large fuel consumption and turboprops gave a better range. Also in a parallel race to build an intercontinental bomber was Boeing, but the recently developed J57 enabled the B-52 Stratofortressto be jet-powered. The Myasischev bureau decided to use early jet engines. Tupolev decided to work on the problems with high-speed turboprops for the new bomber now designated the Tu-95.
With eight-bladed contra-rotating propellers the engine that emerged was the Kuznetsov NK-12 with a nominal 12,000 eshp (8948kW) power rating. Although the engine was advanced, the fuselage design was conventional: it was low-wing cantilever monoplane with 35 degrees of sweep. The angle ensured that the main wing spar passed though the fuselage in front of the bomb bay. It had a retractable tricycle landing gear, with the main gear retracting rearwards.The first aircraft flew in 1953.
For a long time, the Tu-95 was known to Western intelligence as the Tu-20. While this was the original
Soviet Air Forcedesignation for the aircraft, by the time it was being supplied to operational units it was already better known under the Tu-95 designation used internally by Tupolev, and the Tu-20 designation quickly fell out of use in the USSR. Since the Tu-20 designation was used on many documents acquired by Western intelligence agents, the name continued to be used outside the Soviet Union.
Like its American counterpart, the
B-52 Stratofortress, the Tu-95 has continued to operate in the Russian Air Force while several iterations of bomber design have come and gone. Part of the reason for this longevity was its suitability, like the B-52, for modification to different missions. Whereas the Tu-95 was originally intended to drop nuclear weapons, it was subsequently modified to perform a wide range of roles, such as the deployment of cruise missiles, maritime patrol (Tu-142), and even civilian airliner (Tu-114). An AWACSplatform (Tu-126) was developed from the Tu-114. During and after the Cold War, the Tu-95's utility as a weapons platform has been eclipsed only by its usefulness as a diplomatic icon.
Development of the turboprop powered Tu-95 began in the 1950s as an intercontinental bomber when the Tu-4 showed that
piston engineswere not powerful enough to fulfill that role, and the AM-3 jet engines of the proposed T-4 intercontinental jet bomber did not provide it with enough range. [ [http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/bomber/tu-95.htm FAS.org - "Tu-95 BEAR (TUPOLEV)"] ]
The Tu-95 development was officially approved by the government on
11 July 1951, resulting in the test of the first prototype 95/1 on 12 November 1952. Series production of the airplane started in January 1956.
United States Department of Defensedid not take the Tu-95 seriously, as estimates showed it had a maximum speed of 400 mph (644 km/h) with a range of 7,800 miles (12,500 km). [ [http://www.aviation.ru/Tu/95/Tu-95.html Aviation.ru - "Tu-20/95/142 Bear: The fastest prop-driven aircraft."] ] These numbers had to be revised upward numerous times.
Cold War icon
The Tu-95RT variant in particular was a veritable icon of the Cold War as it performed a vital maritime surveillance and targeting mission for other aircraft and surface ships and submarines. It was identifiable by a large bulge under the
fuselage, which housed a radar antenna that was used to search for and target surface ships. The US Navyplaced high priority in intercepting the Tu-95RT aircraft at least two hundred miles from air craft carriers with its F-14 Tomcatinterceptors, which would then escort the Tu-95. On occasion, USN Tomcats demonstrated an ability to intercept Tu-95RT aircraft at ranges up to 1,000 miles from the fighters' carrier battle group (Vistica, Gregory: "Fall From Glory").
During interceptions Tu-95
tail gunners typically kept their twin cannon pointed upwards as to not antagonize the intercepting fighters. Similarly, NATO rules of engagement for interceptions restricted aircrews from locking onto the Tu-95 with fire control radars lest this be misinterpreted as a hostile act.
During the height of the Cold War, the long range of the Tu-95 was demonstrated weekly as a pair of Tu-95s would fly from the
Kola peninsulato Cuba along the east coast of the United States, escorted continuously along the way.Fact|date=August 2007
The Tu-95 dropped the
Tsar Bombain 1961.
Encounters in the air
Western fighters were — and are — often sent to intercept Tu-95s as they performed their missions along the periphery of
NATOairspace, often in very close formation.
Concerning the performance of the aircraft, it has been reported by many fighter pilots that the Tu-95 was able to out-accelerate them for a short distance, especially with the
SEPECAT JaguarFact|date=April 2007. There are also tales of the Soviet pilots suddenly swerving to push the escorts off course or cause them to rapidly decelerate. This went both ways, however. In the 1980s a Royal Norwegian Air ForceF-16 collided with a Tu-95 while escorting it out of Norwegian airspace. Apparently, the Norwegian pilot had been edging closer and closer to the Tupolev before being caught in the prop wash and having a wingtip torn off in the resulting collision. Both planes landed safely.
As late as 1999, Russian Tu-95s, usually flying in pairs, have come within striking distance both of the Iceland/Greenland route of North Atlantic and Alaska/Bering Sea route of North Pacific. In June 1999, the Tu-95s, along with two
Tu-160s, turned back after being intercepted by U.S. fighters. A similar incident occurred in September but the Tu-95s turned back without making contact.
;Encounters after 2000
* April 2002 — two Tu-95 Bear H aircraft flew within 37 miles of
Alaska, and were intercepted by two F-15s. [ [http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/summary_0199-1616564_ITM Bear H intercept] ]
29 January 2004— a Tu-95 flew over the USS Kitty Hawk in the Sea of Japan.
29 September 2006— NORADscrambled Canadian CF-18s from CFB Cold Lakein Central Albertaand American F-15s out of an airbase in Alaska to intercept "a number of the Russian Tu-95 Bear heavy bombers participating in an annual Russian air force exercise near the coast of Alaska and Canada." This launch was a result of the bombers penetrating the North American Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). [ [http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/newsroom/view_news_e.asp?id=2093 DND/CF | News Release | NORAD intercepts Russian aircraft ] ]
* May 2007 — the
Royal Air Forcescrambled two Tornado fighters from RAF Leucharsin Scotlandto intercept a Tu-95 observing the Royal Navyexercise Neptune Warrior. [ [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=453672&in_page_id=1770 Cold War reheated - RAF Tornados foil Russian spy in sky | the Daily Mail ] ]
17 July 2007— two Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s (from Bodø, Norway) and subsequently two RAF Tornados (from RAF Leeming, England) intercepted two Tu-95s as they allegedly made their way down the Norwegian coast towards Scotland. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2093759.ece RAF scrambles to intercept Russian bombers - Times Online ] ] [ [http://www.airliners.net/discussions/military/read.main/69373 Russian Bears Still Cruising — Military Forum | Airliners.net ] ]
* August 2007 — two Tu-95s flew towards the U.S. base on
Guam, where they were intercepted by U.S. fighter planes. Maj Gen Pavel Androsov of the Russian Air Force told a news conference, "We renewed the tradition when our young pilots flew by Guam in two planes. We exchanged smiles with our counterparts who flew up from a U.S. carrier and returned home." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6938856.stm BBC NEWS | Europe | Russia sparks Cold War scramble ] ] [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/09/wrussia109.xml Russian bombers buzz US base in Guam - Telegraph ] ] However, the Pentagon denied that any aircraft were sent up, saying that the proximity of the bombers was not close enough to prompt a response from the carriers. [ [http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL1745006520070817?pageNumber=2 Putin revives Russia's long-haul bomber flights | International | Reuters ] ]
17 August 2007— two RAF Typhoons were launched to intercept and shadow a Tu-95 that had veered towards British airspaceover the North Sea. The Tu-95 later turned away from UK airspace. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6957589.stm BBC NEWS | UK | UK Typhoons shadow Russian bomber ] ]
5 September 2007— six Russian bombers were intercepted by six F-15s from Elmendorf Air Force Base, about 50 miles from the northwest coast of Alaska. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/02/11/russian.bomber/index.html Russian bomber buzzes U.S. aircraft carrier - CNN.com ] ]
6 September 2007— Two Norwegian F-16s tracked eight Tu-95s over the Barents Sea[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6981541.stm BBC NEWS | UK | UK jets shadow Russian bombers ] ] as they neared Norwegian airspace. The bombers flew past Norway and continued towards British airspace where four RAF Tornados were scrambled from RAF Leeming (in two waves of two), before the Russian planes turned away. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6981541.stm BBC NEWS | UK | UK jets shadow Russian bombers ] ] It was the same day that Canadian Forces' CF-18s and Russian Tu-95s met outside Canadian airspace near Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The CF-18s were scrambled when Tu-95s were seen flying outside Canadian airspace. [ [http://www.torontosun.com/News/Canada/2007/09/09/4481291-sun.html TorontoSun.com - Canada - Cool your jets, Russia! ] ]
22 November 2007— F-22A Raptors of the 90th fighter squadron performed their first intercept of two Russian Tu-95MS 'Bear-H' bombers in Alaska. This was the first time that F-22s had been called to support a NORAD mission. [ [http://dailyreport.afa.org/AFA/REPORTS/2007/Month12/Day14/1025raptor.htm "Raptors Perform First Intercept of Russian Bombers] ] [ [http://www.airshowbuzz.com/photos/browse.php?category=4 Pictures of F22/Tu95 intercept] ]
9 February 2008— 24 aircraft including F-15 Eagles and an E-767AWAC from the Japan Air Self-Defense Forcescrambled and gave "a notice, then a warning and another a notice and a warning," as a Russian Tu-95MS 'Bear-H' violated the country's airspace during a three-minute flyover of Sofugan in the Izu Islands. Japan formally issued a strong protest, demanded prevention of future incidents and presented a protest note to the Russian Embassy in Tokyo. Russian officials conversely stated that four Tupolev Tu-95 bombers completed a 10-hour mission over the Pacific on Saturday, but "our strategic aviation planes did not violate Japanese airspace." [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,330173,00.html Japan Deploys Fighter Jets After Russian Bomber Violates Airspace] ] [ [http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jbPc204b-rVoFjSvZPlHVg6mKM8A Russian bomber cuts into Japanese airspace: official] ] [ [http://en.rian.ru/world/20080209/98817712.html Japan says Russian plane violated airspace, Russia denies] ]
9 February 2008— in the Western Pacific, a Russian Tu-95 flew over the aircraft carrier USS Nimitztwice, at a low altitude of about 2,000 feet, while another bomber circled about 58 miles out. Four American F/A-18fighters from the carrier were scrambled and tracked the bombers. [ [http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8UODA4G0 Navy Intercepts Russian Bombers ] ] [ [http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=4274279|ABC News|US Navy intercepts Russian bombers] ]
5 March 2008— Off the eastern coast of South Korea, a Russian Tu-95 or Tu-142 flew over USS Nimitzand was intercepted by two F/A-18 Hornets at an altitude of 2,000 feet at a distance of about 3-5 miles. Four South Korean F-16s were also scrambled to intercept the bomber. [ [http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN0564833620080305 Russian bomber again intercepted near U.S. Navy ship] ] [ [http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5jv8J4VjgaYX6J0w8k_GboxBxcxlw Russian aircraft approaches US aircraft carrier operating off South Korea] ]
26 March 2008— Off the coast of Alaska, Two U.S. Air Force F-15s escorted two Russian Bear long-range bombers out of an air exclusion zone. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/03/26/us.russian.planes/index.html U.S. jets escort Russian bombers off Alaska coast] ]
24 April 2008— Two Tu-95 bombers from Engels-2, along with two Il-78refueling aircraft, were escorted by NATO Tornados and F-16s over the Atlantic. One inflight refueling was witnessed during the escort. [ [http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=12616032&PageNum=0 Two RF bombers complete patrol mission over Atlantic Ocean] ]
13 May 2008— Two Tu-95 bombers from Ukrainka air base conducted a 20 hour patrol over the Arctic Ocean, and were at one point refueled by Il-78refueling aircraft. [ [http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/russian-bombers-conduct-patrol-over-arctic-ocean_10048663.html Russian bombers conduct patrol over Arctic Ocean] ] [ [http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080514/107337318.html Russian strategic bombers conduct 20-hr patrol over Arctic Ocean] ] NORAD tracked the bombers as they entered the Canadian Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).Fact|date=May 2008 CF-18s intercepted and confirmed their identity as the bombers headed towards the Alaskan airspace.Fact|date=May 2008
Present and future status
All Tu-95s now in Russian service are the Tu-95MS variant, built in the 1980s and 1990s. On August 18, 2007, Russian President
Vladimir Putinannounced that Tu-95 patrols would resume after having been terminated 15 years prior. [cite web |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/18/world/europe/17cnd-russia.html?hp |title=Russia Resumes Patrols by Nuclear Bombers - New York Times |accessdate=2007-08-17 |format= |work=]
Russian Tu-95s reportedly took part in a naval exercise off the coasts of France and Spain in January 2008, alongside Tu-22M3 Backfire strategic bombers and airborne early warning aircraft. [cite web |url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3234607.ece |title=RAF alert as Russia stages huge naval exercise in Bay of Biscay - The Times |accessdate=2007-08-17 |format= |work=]
Variants and Derivatives
*Tu-95/1 - Prototype.
*Tu-95/2 - Prototype.
*Tu-95K - Experimental version for air-dropping a MiG-19 SM-20 jet aircraft.
*Tu-95M-55 - Missile carrier.
*Tu-95N - Experimental version for air-dropping an RS ramjet powered aircraft.
*Tu-95LaL (Tu-119) - Experimental nuclear-powered aircraft project.
*Tu-96 - long-range intercontinental high-altitude strategic bomber prototype, a high-altitude version of the Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft with high-altitude augmented turboprop TV-16 engines and with new wing of enlarged area. Plant tests of the aircraft were performed with not high-altitude engines TV-12 in 1955-1956. [http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/russia/tu-96.htm]
Tu-114- Airliner derative of Tu-95.
Tu-116- Tu-95 fitted with passenger cabins as a stop-gap while the Tu-114 was being developed. Only 2 converted.
*Tu-95/Tu-95M - Basic variant of the long-range strategic bomber and the only model of the aircraft never fitted with a nose refuelling probe. Known to NATO as the Bear-A.
*Tu-95U - Uchebnyy - Training version. Known to NATO as the Bear-A.
*Tu-95K/Tu-95KD - Designed to carry the
Raduga Kh-20 air-to-surface missile. The Tu-95KD aircraft were the first to be outfitted with nose probes. Known to NATO as the Bear-B.
*Tu-95KM - Modified and upgraded versions of the Tu-95K, most notable for their enhance reconnaissance systems. These were in turn converted into the Bear G configuration. Known to NATO as the Bear-C.
*Tu-95RTs - "Razvedchik Tseleukazatel" - Variant of the basic Bear A configuration, redesigned for maritime reconnaissance and targeting as well as
electronic intelligence( ELINT) for service in the Soviet Naval Aviation. Known to NATO as the Bear-D.
*Tu-95MR - Bear A modified for
photo-reconnaissanceand produced for Naval Aviation. Known to NATO as the Bear-E.
*Tu-95K22 - Conversions of the older Bear bombers, reconfigured to carry the
Raduga Kh-22missile and incorporating modern avionics. Known to NATO as the Bear-G.
Tu-126- Airborne Early Warning and Control(AEW&C) derivative of Tu-114, itself derived from the Tu-95
*Tu-142 - Maritime reconnaissance/anti-submarine warfare derivative of Tu-95
*Tu-95MS/Tu-95MS6/Tu-95MS16 - Completely new cruise missile carrier platform based on the Tu-142 airframe. This variant became the launch platform of the
Raduga Kh-55 cruise missile. Known to NATO as the Bear-H and was referred to by the U.S. military as a Tu-142 for some time in the 1980s before its true designation became known.
*Tu-95U - Training variant, modified from surviving Bear A's but now all have been retired. Known to NATO as the Bear-T.
Several other modification of the basic Tu-95/Tu-142 airframe have existed, but these were largely unrecognized by Western intelligence or else never reached operational status within the Soviet military. One of these modified Bears, known as the Tu-95V, was used to drop the
Russian Air Force- 64 Tu-95MS Strategic bombers.
Ukrainian Air Force- Retired from service.;USSR
Soviet Air Force, Long Range Aviation- Passed on to Russia and Ukraine.The first Tu-95 division, 106th TBAD (Heavy Bomber Air Division), was formed in 1956. The division commander was twice Hero of the Soviet Union A.G. Molodchi. ['SSM' manuscript from Yahoo TO&E group] The 106th TBAD incorporated the 409th TBAP (Heavy Bomber Air Regiment ) (commander — Colonel M.M. Charitonov) which was raised late in 1956 and the 1006th TBAP (commander — Colonel V.P. Pavlov) raised in 1956. The 106th TBAD's base was Uzin near Kiev. The 1223rd TBAP in Semipalatinsk, under the command of Hero of the Soviet Union colonel V.M. Bezbokov, was raised in 1957, within the 79th Air Division (commander — twice Hero of the Soviet Union General Major M.P. Taran). The 1223rd TBAP's targets were the north of the USA and Canada.
Soviet Naval Aviation-
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
crew=Seven - two pilots, one tailgunner, four others
length main=49.50 m
length alt=162 ft 5 in
span main=51.10 m
span alt=167 ft 8 in
height main=12.12 m
height alt=39 ft 9 in
area main=310 m²
area alt=3,330 ft²
empty weight main=90,000 kg
empty weight alt=198,000 lb
loaded weight main=171,000 kg
loaded weight alt=376,200 lb
max takeoff weight main=188,000 kg
max takeoff weight alt=414,500 lb
engine (prop)=Kuznetsov NK-12MV
type of prop=
number of props=4
power main=11,000 kW
power alt=14,800 shp
power original= [Originally measured as 15,000 PS.]
max speed main=920 km/h
max speed alt=510 knots, 575 mph
range main=15,000 km
range alt=8,100 nm, 9,400 mi
ceiling main=12,000 m
ceiling alt=39,000 ft
climb rate main=10 m/s
climb rate alt=2,000 ft/min
loading main=606 kg/m²
loading alt=124 lb/ft²
power/mass main=235 W/kg
power/mass alt=0.143 hp/lb
*Radar-controlled Guns: 1 or 2× AM-23 23 mm cannon in tail turret
*Missiles: Up to 15,000 kg (33,000 lb), including the Kh-20, Kh-22,
Kh-26, and Kh-55 air-to-surface missiles
List of bomber aircraft
List of military aircraft of the Soviet Union and the CIS
* [http://www.russiatoday.ru/features/news/15698/video "Bears prowl the Atlantic skies" video report from Russia Today]
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