Why is the US still particularly wary of Russia’s Tu-95 “flying museum”?

Tu-95 Bear bomber made its first flight on November 12, 1952, it was officially put into operation in the Soviet long-range aviation force in 1956.

However, the first combat mission of the Tu-95 was only carried out in… 2015, when “Bear” launched cruise missiles against the ground targets of the ISIS terrorist organization in Syria. Similar to the American B-52 Stratofortress, the Tu-95 is still in service to this day in the Russian Air Force.

Even the Tu-95 is expected to continue to serve in the Russian aerospace forces until at least 2040, The website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) states: “The Tu-95 Bear is perhaps the most successful Soviet-made bomber, long service in a variety of roles and configurations. together”.

“Bear is the only operational bomber using propeller engines, so it’s extremely durable, with only slightly less speed than comparable jet-powered bombers.”

In terms of speed, the FAS has listed basic variants of the Russian bomber, the Tu-95M aka “Bear A” having a top speed of 925 km/h, while the Tu-95MS bears the name. cruise fire was tested in combat, it reached a top speed of 830 km/h.

As implied by the Bear moniker, this is a large aircraft: Its maximum take-off weight is 190 tons with a fuselage length of 49.1 meters and a wingspan of 50.1 meters, with a tail height of 49.1 meters. 13.4 meters.

Bear A can carry a maximum weapon load of 12,000 kg. The aircraft has a range of 13,200 km and is powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12MV turboprop engines. Depending on the specific mission, the aircraft has a crew of 6 or 7 people.

When comparing with the B-52, experts explain, the reason why both bombers remain in service for such a long time is that they are both flexible platforms. In the case of the Bear, 9 different variants were built.

Special versions of the Tu-95 include electronic intelligence/reconnaissance (TU-95RT/Bear D); take pictures (Tu-95U/Bear E); anti-submarine warfare (Tu-142/Bear F); submarine communications relay (Tu-142MR/Bear J), and even a passenger variant called the Tu-114.

With the great durability of the fuselage due to the use of special materials, although the Tu-95s have been built for a long time, it only needs to modernize the avionics system to have superior combat capabilities. newly built aircraft.

Through Kh-101 or Kh-555 cruise missiles, Tu-95MS can launch attacks from outside the range of enemy air defenses, making the aircraft not enter the danger zone.

Although the American B-52 can carry a larger payload than the Tu-95, one area where the Russian bomber beats its American counterpart is that it has a rear cannon to defend itself against fighters’ enemy interception.

Bear retained two 23 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23 automatic cannons. In fact, in July 2021, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a video, in which there was a demonstration of the power of this weapon.

FAS experts conclude that, although it is considered a “flying museum”, perhaps no opponent in the world wants to anger this fearsome “bear”.

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