Tag Archives: Tu-160 Blackjack

Take a look at these photographs of the Russian Tu-160 bombers intercepted by the RAF Typhoons

…an ordinary day for the British Typhoons in QRA (even though the photos show two French interceptors).

Social media went abuzz yesterday as two nuclear-capable Russian Air Force Tu-160 Blackjack bombers were intercepted by RAF Typhoons during a long-range sortie from their base in the Kola peninsula.

Although some British media reported that the Russian strategic bomber were heading into the UK airspace, as usual, the Tu-160s remained well outside the British sovereign airspace.

Two RAF Typhoons in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at RAF Coningsby were launched to intercept and escort the Blackjacks as they “skirted” the British Isles heading southwest, until they were handed over to the fighter jets launched by the French Air Force: noteworthy, a Rafale and maybe a Mirage 2000 appear in the photos released by the UK MoD today.

Tu160 intercepted UK 3

It’s not clear where the Tu-160s flew after their close encounter with the NATO fighters: according to some radiohams, they were heard northbound again a few hours later. If confirmed this would mean that this time the Blackjacks were not involved in a very long-range strike mission against IS targets in Syria as the one they flew in the night between Nov. 19 and 20, 2015, when two Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers from Olenegorsk airbase skirted the airspaces of Norway and the UK, flew over the Atlantic until Gibraltair, entered the Mediterranean sea, attacked targets in Syria with cruise missiles, and returned to Russia flying along the eastern corridor (over Iraq, Iran, Caspian Sea).

Nevertheless, the new mission proves Tu-160s are continuing flying long-range missions (for training or operative purposes) along the Atlantic route becoming more frequent visitors of airspaces near NATO countries in northern Europe than they were in the past few years.

Tu160 intercepted UK 2

Image credit: Crown Copyright

 

Video: Russian Su-30SM fighters escort Tu-160 bombers launching cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea

Fantastic footage of the Russian Su-30SMs escorting the Tu-160s over the Mediterranean Sea.

Between Nov. 19 and 20, two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers launched from northwest Russia for a 13,000km journey around Europe, to launch cruise missiles against ground targets in Syria.

During the mission, the aircraft were identified and escorted off UK by RAF Eurofighter Typhoons; however, the British interceptors in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) were not the only aircraft they met during their long mission: over the Mediterranean Sea they were intercepted and escorted by at least three Su-30SM Flankers launched from Latakia.

And here’s a really interesting footage showing the rendez-vous between the bombers and their escorts and the subsequent launch of cruise missiles (that seem to be KH-555s).

Russian (armed) Tu-160 bombers circumnavigate Europe, launch cruise missiles against IS targets from Mediterranean Sea

Russian Tu-16os launch Syrian air strike from Kola Peninsula, in far northwest Russia, in a global strike show.

During the night between Nov. 19 and 20, the Russian Air Force conducted a very long-range strike mission against IS targets in Syria: two Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers departed from Olenegorsk airbase, in the Kola Peninsula around 21.00z but, instead of taking the usual route through the Caspian Sea and Iran, went westbound, skirted the airspaces of Norway and the UK, flew over the Atlantic until Gibraltair, entered the Mediterranean sea and flew eastbound towards Syria and then eastbound along the usual corridor, back to Russia.

This video, released by Russia’s MoD shows the Tu-160s (and Tu-95) being armed and launched for the night mission.

Interestingly, the Blackjacks launched their cruise missiles (most probably the new, stealthy KH-101s that they have been using since they launched the first air strike on ground targets in Syria) from the Mediterranean Sea for the very first time. Here’s an image (there are more available on Twitter) of the Tu-160 flying over Syria, with an escorting Su-30SMs.

During the first part of their 13,000 km long journey, the Russian strategic bombers remained in international airspace and were intercepted and visually identified by some NATO QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) fighters scrambled to escort the Tu-160s. Among them, the RAF Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth.

 

Interesting bomb bay video shows Russian Tu-160 strategic bomber dropping KH-555 cruise missile

Something you don’t see too often.

Filmed from inside the bomb bay of a Russian Air Force Tu-160 Blackjack, the video below, released by the Russian MoD, shows the strategic bomber launching what appear to be a KH-555 air-launched cruise missile.

The KH-555 is a conventionally armed variant, with an improved guidance system and warhead, of the KH-55 (NATO reporting name AS-15 “Kent”), a cruise missile with a range of up to 2,500 km (1,350 nm) (and ability to carry nuclear warheads).

Fantastic photos of the Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers intercepted by RAF Typhoons yesterday

Two Tu-160s met the British QRA yesterday.

On Sept. 10, RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon aircraft were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland (along with a supporting Voyager tanker from RAF Brize Norton) to intercept two Russian aircraft flying in international airspace.

The two Typhoon pilots visually identified the two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers and escorted them as they flew close to the British airspace.

It’s the very first time in several years that the white-colored supersonic, variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber appears in photographs taken by RAF QRA pilots: indeed, according to recent reports, there only 5 combat capable Tu-160 in service and this means the Tu-160 are rarely launched on very long missions.

Tu-160 intercepted Typhoons

However, with the Tu-95s only slowly returning to normal operations after the grounding that followed a series of crashes, there is some chance Tu-160s may pay visit to the international airspace off some NATO member state.

Tu-160 intercepted

In 2013, two Tu-160s deployed to Venezuela and Nicaragua after a 13-hour flight across the Pacific. On their 15-hour return flight to Engels airbase, in Russia, that included aerial refueling by Il-78 tankers over the Norwegian Sea, the two Blackjacks entered Colombian airspace and were intercepted and escorted by Colombian Air Force Kfir fighter planes for 5 minutes.

Image credit: Crown Copyright / UK MoD