"The most flexible component of the nuclear triad": how is the modernization of long-range aviation in Russia

In 2018, Russian long-range aviation received five strategic missile carriers - one Tu-160M2 and four Tu-95MSM. Reports about it the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. At present, this formation of VKS is in the stage of deep modernization. The plans include a cardinal renewal of the existing fleet and the development of a promising intercontinental aircraft that can use almost all types of known ammunition.


The long-range aviation (YES) units of Russia in 2018 received five upgraded strategic rocket carriers - one Tu-160M ​​“White Swan” and four Tu-95MSM “Bear”. This is reported on the website of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Next year, four more Tu-95MSMs should be delivered to the troops.

The modern YA fleet consists of the Tu-160 (M / M2) and Tu-95MS (95MSM) missile carriers, the T-22M3 bombers, the Il-78 tanker and the Tu-22MR reconnaissance aircraft. Long-range aviation is part of the VKS and is the air component of Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces.

The objectives of the DA include the destruction of air bases, missile complexes, command posts, operational control centers of air defense, aircraft carrier groups, ports, power facilities and hydraulic structures. Strikes can be inflicted with both nuclear and non-nuclear weapons. Also, long-range aviation may be involved in the conduct of aerial reconnaissance.

“A practical demonstration of the spatial indicators of the combat capabilities of the DA command are flights to air patrols of Tu-95MS and Tu-160 aircraft in the area of ​​Iceland and the Norwegian Sea; to the North Pole and the Aleutian Islands; along the east coast of South America, "- says the materials of the Ministry of Defense.

  • Tu-95MS takes off from the airfield
  • © Press Service of the Ministry of Defense of Russia

Currently, the composition of YES (taking into account the combat vehicles in storage) has almost 120 units (16 Tu-160, 60 Tu-95, 40 Tu-22M), slightly less than 60 "strategists" (16 Tu-160 , 30 Tu-95, 12 Tu-22M). Long-range aviation VKS participated in the war in Afghanistan (1979-1989), the South Ossetian conflict (August 2008) and the Syrian operation (2015-2018).

The main location for the deployment of YES RF connections is the Engels Guards Air Base in the Saratov Region. In addition to Russia, the only owners of long-range aviation are the United States and China, which is currently working on a project for the H-20 bomber, designed to replace the Xian H-6 (Soviet Tu-16).

Increased combat capabilities

In 2015, a large-scale long-range fleet modernization program was launched in Russia. At the enterprises of the military-industrial complex (DIC), a major overhaul and repair of new on-board radio-electronic equipment (AIRT) and more advanced engines is being carried out.

In addition, new ammunition was developed for YES aircraft. On November 17, 2015, the Tu-95MS used for the first time in combat the Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles with a range of 4.5 thousand km. The blows were inflicted on the infrastructure of terrorists in Syria.

Tu-95 is the oldest strategist of Russia. The first flight "Bear" made in 1952. However, as the Ministry of Defense believes, the car has not lost its relevance. The brainchild of Tupolev Design Bureau is equipped with the NK-12, the most powerful turboprop power plant in the world, developed by the Kuibyshev Engine Plant (now PJSC Kuznetsov). The aircraft engine makes it possible to overcome a distance of 10.5–15 thousand km with economical fuel consumption. The maximum speed of the vehicle is 830 km / h, the combat load is 20 tons, the crew is 7 people.

Created in the second half of the 1960s, the Tu-22M became the first distant supersonic bomber in the USSR. The machine is capable of hitting targets deep behind enemy lines. It received baptism of fire during the war in Afghanistan, successfully destroying Mujahideen objects in mountainous areas by air bombs. The range of the Tu-22M in the M3 version is 6 thousand km, the maximum speed is 2.3 thousand km / h. The aircraft can withstand a combat load of up to 24 tons, its crew consists of 4 people.

The newest aircraft DA VKS is the Tu-160 (“White Swan”). The car first took to the air on December 18, 1981. The uniqueness of this strategist lies in the ability to overcome the enemy's air defense lines at a speed of 2.2 thousand km / h at an altitude of 22 km. The aircraft can go to a supersonic speed in the afterburner mode and hold it for 45 minutes. The crew of the Tu-160 consists of four people, the combat load - 40-45 tons, flight range - 13.5 thousand km.

The production of the White Swan was discontinued in 2008. In 2015, the leadership of the Russian Federation decided to resume the serial production of a strategist in the M2 modification at the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant (KAZ, a branch of PJSC Tupolev). The first demonstration flight of the Tu-160M2 (board "Peter Deinekin") was made on January 25, 2018.

  • Tu-160 provides refueling in the air
  • © Press Service of the Ministry of Defense of Russia

The initial plans of the Ministry of Defense included the release of 50 new Tu-160M2. Currently KAZ executes an order for the production of 10 “White Swans”. The contract worth 160 billion rubles was concluded in January 2018 during a meeting between the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation (now Deputy Prime Minister) Yury Borisov and the head of the United Aircraft Building Corporation (UAC), Yuri Slusar.

The current fleet of Tu-160 will be improved to the level of "M2". This modification has an increased flight range (by 1 thousand km compared to the previous sample) and a 10% reduction in fuel consumption due to a more economical powerplant. Also, the aircraft features a more modern layout. It implements the concept of a “glass cabin” (mechanical indicators are replaced by displays) and an “open side” (a simplified scheme for the integration of equipment components from different manufacturers).

In late December 2017, in an interview with the Red Star, Lieutenant General Sergei Kobylash said that the combat effectiveness of the Tu-160M2 would be two and a half times higher than the previous model. According to him, for the updated "White Swan" "the leading positions among the strategic strike complexes will be maintained."

According to the “flying wing” scheme

In November 2018, UAC announced the start of the development of the new generation strategist PAK DA (a promising long-range aviation complex). The aircraft will be implemented according to the “flying wing” scheme and with extensive use of stealth technology. Designers Tupolev design bureau decided to sacrifice supersonic speed in favor of stealth.

All the weapons of the machine will be inside the case. It is assumed that the PAK DA will be able to use almost all types of known ammunition, including the latest missiles, adjustable and guided bombs. The flight range of a promising vehicle will be about 12 thousand km, speed - up to 1000 km / h, take-off weight - 110 tons.

From the information on the public procurement website it follows that the PAK DA engine will be able to work at least 600 hours without repair, and its full resource will be 8 thousand hours (about 12 years of operation). The body of the aircraft will be made of composite materials with a radio absorbing coating. Mass production of the machine will unfold in Kazan.

  • Image PAK YES
  • © Press Service of the Ministry of Defense of Russia

In an interview with RT, the founder of the Military Russia portal, Dmitry Kornev, stated that the PAK DA should completely replace the long-range aircraft fleet. However, as the expert believes, the development and testing of the aircraft can be delayed, since the industry will have to solve many complex engineering problems. To give the specialists time, the Ministry of Defense is carrying out modernization of the front-line machines.

“In my opinion, PAK DA is designed to solve the big problem of our long-range aviation, its technical diversity, which complicates operation and leads to increased costs for the production of individual units. For example, on all three YA combat vehicles there are different engines. On the Tu-160 - NK-32, on the Tu-95 - NK-25, on the Tu-22M3 - NK-12. This is not critical, but it is more preferable to have one type of multi-purpose attack aircraft, ”noted Kornev.

According to the expert, with the advent of PAK DA, the air component of the strategic nuclear forces of the Russian Federation will reach a qualitatively new level. From the end of the 2020s, the plane will gradually be forced out of the Tu-95MSM and Tu-22M3M. In this case, as suggested by Kornev, the VKS will be long enough to operate the Tu-160M2.

“There was a lot of controversy over the resumption of mass production of the Tu-160. Indeed, because of the large number of titanium structures, this is a very expensive car. Of course, “White Swan” is a wonderful airplane, but I adhere to the point of view that it is more expedient to send funds to the implementation of the PAK DA project and complete the production of the Tu-160 with ten production samples. It is for PAK DA that the future of our long-range aviation, the most flexible component of Russia's nuclear triad, ”concluded Kornev.

ref: russiart