Air International 2022-03
A.Mladenov - Bear necessities
The first upgraded Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95MSM, RF-94121/'Red 21' Samara takes off for its maiden flight at Beriev's Taganrog facility on August 22, 2020, and testing is expected to be completed in 2022.
A Kh-101-toting Tu-95MS seen during in-flight refuelling from an Il-78M tanker
The Bear-H’s mid-mounted wings have a slight anhedral to improve controllability in bank while swept at 350 for the inner panels and 33.50 for the outer panels. The wings use a rather thin profile and their swept is optimised for flying at speeds exceeding 415kt at high altitude
The numerical strength of the Bear-H fleet, comprising of about 60 examples (including 33 upgraded to Phase 1) and cleared to carry nuclear-tipped missiles, makes the type the undisputed backbone of the airborne component of Russia’s nuclear deterrence inventory
Live Kh-101 missiles loaded on pylons at Engels Air Base before a long-range strike mission to Syria.
The Kh-101/-102 ultra-long-range ALCMs are new addition to the Bear-H's arsenal, commissioned around 2013 and cleared for external carriage only
Each NK-12MP engine had an eight-blade counterrotating AV-60K propeller unit, comprising of two four-blade counter-rotating reversible-pitch propellers. The rotational speed is constant at 735rpm and the maximum power rating is 15,000shp
A close look at the tail turret with radar-guided GSh-23L twin-barrel guns, each provided with 600 rounds. The guns can also fire rounds containing chaff and infrared flares to counter the guidance systems of radar- and IR-guided air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles launched at the aircraft
The Bear-H, in its upgraded and life-extended form, is considered as being well-fit to continue serving on until 2035 or even 2040 as an indispensable part of Russia's global strike arsenal
Bear-H’s self-protection is provided by a tail turret with two GSh-23 twin-barrel guns with a 3,000rpm rate of fire, each provided with 600 rounds. The turret is guided by a Krypton rear-facing radar mounted above it or manually by a gunner using the PS-253K sight