Here’s The First Footage of The Modernised Tu-95MSM “Bear” Bomber Performing Its Maiden Flight

The first Tu-95MSM prepares for its maiden flight. (Image credit: screenshot from the YT video embedded in the article).

Russia’s Tu-95MSM heavily upgraded strategic missile-carrying bomber has made its first flight.

United Aircraft Corporation has just released the first-ever footage of the maiden flight of a heavily upgraded Tupolev Tu-95MSM (NATO reporting name “Bear”). The first flight took place on Aug. 22, 2020, at the Taganrog Aviation Plant, in Taganrog.

The video shows the iconic Russian bomber (with its peculiar coaxial contra-rotating propellers) taxiing, taking off, performing a fly by and landing, reportedly after 2.5 hours of test flight.

As part of the modernization program, the bomber received a brand new Novella-NV1.021 phased array radar, a new flight control and information display system, and the Meteore-NM2 airborne defence complex, “capable of jamming enemy ground and aircraft-based radar”. Moreover, the “new” Bear variant features a new SOI-021 information display system and a new weapons control system, as well as new engines, the upgraded Kuznetsov NK-12MPM turboprop engines. These are said to increase the range of the strategic bomber and halve the level of the motors’ vibration.

“The NK-12MPM engine developed by the Samara-based Kuznetsov public company (part of the UEC [United Engine Corporation] within Rostec) is a modification of the NK-12MP, the world’s most powerful (15,000 hp) serial-produced turbo-prop engine,” says a statement obtained by TASS last year.

“It allows improving the aircraft’s take-off characteristics and increasing the load-carrying capacity and the flight range of the missile-carrying bomber. The new powerplant uses more powerful propellers created by Aerosila Research and Production Enterprise while the new design solutions have almost halved the vibration level,” the statement reads.

“This is an aircraft with a new set of weapons, new onboard electronic equipment, new modified engines, new propellers. The combat capabilities of the plane have doubled after this modernisation,” Yuri Slyusar, general director of United Aircraft Corporation said commenting the first flight of the Tu-95MSM, according to the Zvezda television channel.

Thanks to the upgrade, the Tu-95, first introduced in 1956, is expected to serve with the Russian Aerospace Forces until at least 2040.

Here below the same footage released by UAC, published on Youtube by Sputnik News (just in case the one embedded above from Twitter doesn’t work):

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.