Nearly 68 years old, Russian bomber Tupolev Tu-95 gets updated version

One of the most famous and important military aircraft in the Soviet Union, the ‘Bear’ now features the Tu-95MSM variant, which flew for the first time on August 22
Tupolev Tu-95MSM first flight (UAC)

When ‘Bear’ first took off in November 1952, Joseph Stalin was still the premier of the Soviet Union, although he was already quite ill. The Cold War was already a reality and the conflict between the Koreas put Russians and Americans in conflict in Southeast Asia. Seven months earlier, the United States had flown the inaugural flight of the B-52 Stratofortress, the most impressive strategic bomber ever created. The Tu-95 was, therefore, a response to its rivals, but with original solutions.

Instead of the inefficient turbojets, the massive Tupolev boasted turboprop engines that powered counter-rotating propellers. It had a set of landing gears so high that it made the plane look like a heron. And, like the B-52, the ‘Bear’ (name given by NATO) has also become a versatile, robust and extremely resistant platform. Proof of this is that on Saturday, 22, UAC, the company that controls almost all Russian aircraft manufacturers, flew the TU-95MSM, the latest version of the aircraft.

The turboprop aircraft is a profound update on the project and has received new equipment such as the new Novella-NV1.021 phased array radar, a new flight control and information display system, and the Meteore-NM2 airborne defense complex. In addition, the Tupolev bomber has the new SOI-021 information display system, new weapons control system and improved Kuznetsov NK-12MPM turboprop engines.

The aircraft took off from the Beriev Aircraft Plant in Taganrog and performed a flight lasting 2 hours and 33 minutes. According to Yuri Slyusar, CEO of UAC, the Tu-95MSM will be able to transport eight strategic missiles instead of four: “A possibility has appeared to carry eight instead of four missiles, ie to increase its weapon payload two-fold and extend the aircraft’s service life considerably,” he explained to the TASS agency.

The Russian Air Force, however, does not reveal how many Tu-95s will be converted to the new standard. Currently, the country operates a fleet of around 40 turboprop aircraft, which are part of the strategic fleet together with the Tu-22M and Tu-160, which are also being modernized.

The ‘Bear’, however, is still an aircraft of unbeatable performance in some aspects. In 2010, for example, a Tu-95 set the world record for nonstop flight, covering about 30,000 km in 43 hours with 4 aerial refueling.

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