Tag Archives: Tu-22M Backfire

Russian MoD video shows Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22 bombers (with Su-27 escort) bomb ISIS in Syria

Interesting footage of Putin’s heavy bombers at work.

Early in the morning on Nov. 17, the Russian Air Force launched 25 heavy bombers against ISIS ground targets in Syria.

The aircraft, 5 x Tu-160 Blackjack, 6 x Tu-95MS Bear and 14 x Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers flew round trip missions from airbases in Russia to drop a variety of weapons: both air-launched cruise missiles, like the KH-555 whose remains were recovered in Syria, and free fall bombs, like those dropped by the Backfires, in the somehow old-fashioned carpet bombing (while being escorted by some Su-27s).

Actually, the show of force of the Russian Air Force was also an opportunity to test some new “hardware” as the new KH-101 low-observable cruise missile.

Here’s what seems to be the wreckage of a KH-101.

Actually, the video released by Moscow also contains old footage, as the bomb bay clip of a Tu-160 launching a KH-555 that we already published some days ago.

 

25 Russian long-range strategic bombers in action over Syria for the very first time

Russian Air Force heavy bombers made their first appearance over Syria yesterday night.

It looks like Moscow stepped up its military effort in Syria even before the intention to intensify the air strikes was announced by Putin on Nov. 17.

As initially reported by Reuters, a US official has confirmed that Moscow has conducted a significant number of strikes in Syria using both sea-launched cruise missiles and long-range bombers.

The Russian MoD said 25 long-range bombers took part in the raid: 5 x Tu-160s, 6 x Tu-95MS and 14 x Tu-22M3.

According to one our sources who wishes to remain anonymous, the long-range bombers the Russian Air Force has used against ground targets in Syria early in the morning on Nov. 17 were Tu-22M Backfire strategic bombers.

The aircraft were allegedly launched from Mozdok airbase, in Ossetia, where as many as 6 Tu-22s were spotted on a recent deployment.

Remains of a KH-555 missile wreck were found in Syria: considered that this type of air-launched missile is mainly carried by Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers (Tu-22s have been tested with the KH-555 but full integration is not completed or at least unknown), the long-range bombers that launched the attack on ground targets using those missiles may have been the Tu-95s or Tu-160s flying alongside the Backfires.

We will provide more details as soon as they become available.

Image credit: Dmitriy Pichugin

 

Russia is working to modernize its strategic aviation to maintain a deterrence capability

Russian Strategic Aviation modernization programs involve Tu-160 and Tu-95 bombers.

According to the rumors reported by the Polish Altair media outlet, the Kazan-based KAZ (Kazanskiy Aviatsyonniy Zavod) facility would be ready to start building brand new Tu-160 Blackjacks.

15 more bombers are needed to maintain Moscow’s strategic deterrence capability: out of 12-13 Tupolevs of this type in the Russian Air Force, only 5 examples are combat capable, only one of those has been modernized since it entered active service.

The news of Soviet-era production lines reopened or sold to China have emerged in the last years and denied shortly thereafter so the rumors should be taken with a grain of salt. Anyway, provided the news is well-founded, the decision to reactivate the production line of the Tu-160 would be a sign that it is probably easier and more cost-effective to build new Blackjacks and refurbish the existing ones, instead of waiting for a completely new strategic bomber R&D program, as the PAK-DA.

Indeed, many believe the Russian industry lacks technology and resources to produce the PAK-DA, the next generation strategic bomber, a subsonic flying wing-shaped aircraft with radar-evading capabilities, advanced electronic warfare systems and able to carry new nuclear-capable long-range cruise missiles, destined to replace Moscow’s aging fleet of Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers.

According to some analysts the troubled development of the Sukhoi’s PAK-FA, Russia’s fifth generation stealth fighter jet, that still lacks a proper power-plant, is the proof that Moscow’s aerospace industry is simply unable to develop futuristic combat planes.

It is estimated that reactivation of the Backfire production line would cost more than USD 2 billion, while price tag for a single Tu-160M bomber is believed to be around USD 250-350 million.

However, there are many other problems that make the re-opening quite unlikely: as Altair news outlet noted, Tupolev lacks in digital documentation (the documents are being transformed into digital form now, as A claims) and human resources. Production process also involves titanium processing which always has been painful for the Russians. It was visible e.g. back in the 1970’s, when MiG-25 was designed. The airplane, instead of being made out of thermally resistant titanium, was made mainly out of steel. What is more, some components of the Tu-160 bombers came from Ukraine – acquisition of these, in the current geopolitical context, would be difficult at best.

Russia is currently in a dire situation economically, hence the news about the relaunch/modernization of the Blackjacks raises some doubts. If that is not enough, TASS agency claimed that Moscow is also going to upgrade ten examples of the Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers. The modernization is going to focus on radio-electronic portion of the aircraft, including navigation and landing-assistance systems. All in all, Russian MoD claims that about 70% of the Russian strategic aviation inventory is to be modernized by 2020.

Dealing with strategic bombers, Russians have decided to deploy the Tu-22M3 Backfire-C (which is a smaller brother of the Blackjack) to bases in the Crimean peninsula. This was announced by the Russian Ministry of Defence back on Mar. 17; even though the U.S. is banned from introducing aircraft carriers into the Black Sea, considered the threat posed to flattops by air-launched cruise missiles, the Pentagon now has one more reason not to do it.

The whole Russian activity which additionally involves exercises which are being carried out in the Western and Central Military Districts. The drills have been ordered by Putin on Mar. 16, and are supposedly aimed at testing the quick reaction capabilities of the Russian Army. It additionally involves training in deployment of the Iskander and Iskander-M strategic missiles (which, by the way, constitute a breach of the INF treaty) in the Kaliningrad area, north of Poland. This may cause further tensions in the region.

Strategic aviation also involves strategic transport operations. Russia Today claims that not only are the Russians working on a prospective strategic bomber (the already mentioned PAK-DA, designed by Tupolev bureau), but they also started works on a strategic transport PAK-TA airplane, which is to be capable of reaching speeds of up to 2,000 km/h and transport payload of 200 tonnes at distances of 7,000 km.

RT claims that 80 new cargo aircraft are to be built by 2024. This seems to be a completely unrealistic statement, considering the status of the Russian economy, in the light of the sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation due to the Ukrainian crisis.

As our analysis shows, the Russian strategic aviation still has a deterrence potential. However, the West, throughout the last few decades, has been preparing itself for irregular conflicts, such as the Afghan war. As we can see – this can be, currently, considered to be a mistake. Thus we may expect that NATO would revise and change its military strategy, in order to tailor it to a conventional conflict – we have certainly entered a new phase of a sort-of Cold War 2.0 – since even though Russia faces financial problems (due to the Western control placed over the oil prices, and currency exchange rate between Russian Ruble and US Dollar), it is still involved in relevant arms development programs.

Image credit: Pavel Adzhigildaev/Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Finnish Air Force Hornet jets have taken some cool snapshots of Russian bombers skirting Finland’s airspace

Surge in Russian Air Force flights in northern Europe is providing an opportunity for local air forces to take some interesting pictures of Moscow warplanes.

Russia has launched several missions flown over the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea region in the last few days.

Beginning on Dec. 6 and continuing through this week, Russian Air Force has been particularly busy in international airspace close to the Finnish airspace forcing the Finnish Air Force to scramble its F/A-18 Hornets and shadow Moscow’s warplanes.

Tupolev Tu-95

Fortunately, the Finnish fighter pilots involved in these close encounters have taken some interesting pictures of the once rarer Russian heavy bombers and attack planes.

Tupolev Tu-22M

According to the Finnish air force, Tu-95s, Tu-22Ms, Su-34s, Su-27s, Su-24s and MiG-31s were intercepted by the Hornets in the last weeks.

Suhoi Su-34

Image credit: Finnish Air Force

 

Awesome photo of British Typhoon intercepting fully armed Russian Su-27 over the Baltics

What a close encounter: Russian Su-27 and British Typhoon.

On Jun. 17, Royal Air Force Typhoons were scrambled to intercept multiple Russian aircraft as part of NATO’s Baltics Air Policing mission.

According to the information released by the RAF, the Typhoon aircraft, from 3 (Fighter) Squadron, were launched !after four separate groups of aircraft were detected by NATO air defences in international airspace near to the Baltic States.”

The “zombies” (how unidentified aircraft are dubbed in fighter pilots jargon), turned out to be a Tupolev Tu-22M “Backfire” bomber, four Sukhoi Su-27 ‘Flanker’ fighters, one Beriev A50 ‘Mainstay’ early warning aircraft and an Antonov An-26 ‘Curl’ transport aircraft “who appeared to be carrying out a variety of routine training,” even though the Flankers appear to be armed to the teeth, with 4x R-27 medium range and 2x R-73 short range air-to-air missiles

As usual, the Russian aircraft were shadowed and escorted on their way.

Su-27 RAF Typhoon

Image credit: SAC Dan Herrick / RAF /Crown Copyright