Tag Archives: Bear

Russia: long-range bombers at War in Syria

UPDATED 20 November | For the first time the Russian strategic bomber fleet has been waging war in modern combat, launching long-range air strikes against targets / areas in Syria last night.

UPDATE | More footage has appeared of Russian bombers launching cruise missiles or dropping bombs, some of them under the watchful eye of -rather surprisingly – Iranian F-14 Tomcats. See here.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defence the attack fleet last night included 5 Tupolev Tu-160 “Blackjack”, 6 Tu-95MS “Bear”, 14 Tupolev Tu-22M3s “Backfire, 8 Sukhoi Su-34 “Fullback” and 4 Sukhoi Su-27SM “Flanker” all flying in from land-bases in Russia with flights lasting 4 hours and several thousands of miles. With at least the fighter aircraft probably supported by IL-78 “Midas” tanker aircraft.

Cruise missiles

Sources in Western capitals have acknowledged their governments were informed far ahead of the Russian operations this time, which included the launch of 34 cruise missiles. The attacks were concentrated on the Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor areas, as well as Aleppo and Idlib. The Russian planned 127 sorties against 206 targets, with 82 sorties against 140 objectives done. Syrian troops are said to have started a ground offensive about 15 to 25 miles from Idlib.

Latakia Airbase

Part of the Russian Expeditionary Wing based at an Syrian military airbase near Latakia (Khmeymim) also went airborne. The wing now consists of eight fighter-bombers (4 Sukhoi Su-30SMs, 4 Sukhoi Su-34s), 12 strike/bombers of the Sukhoi Su-24M “Fencer” type, 12 close-air support and attack aircraft of the Sukhoi Su-25SM “Frogfoot” type, a dozen Mil Mi-24 “Hind” attack helicopters and 4 Mil Mi-8 “Hip” assault helicopters.

A Tupolev Tu-95 bomber of the Russian Air Force (Image © RAF)
A Tupolev Tu-95 bomber of the Russian Air Force (Image © RAF)
A Tupolev Tu-22M3 of the type that simulated attack on Sweden during Eastern 2013 (Image © Max)
A Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire, an aircraft similar to the western Rockwell B-1B bomber. (Image © Max)
A hyper-modern Russian Su-34 photographed by a RNoAF F-16 crew on an much published intercept in October 2014 (Image © Forsvaret)
A hyper-modern Russian Su-34 photographed by a RNoAF F-16 crew on an much published intercept in October 2014 (Image © Forsvaret)
Archive photo of a Russian Air Force Su-27SM3 performing at the Zhukovsky airshow in August 2012 (Image (CC) Alan Wilson)
Archive photo of a Russian Air Force Su-27SM3 performing at the Zhukovsky airshow in August 2012 (Image (CC) Alan Wilson)

25 extra long-range aircraft

Moscow plans to augment the wing for now with 25 extra long-range aircraft (likely bombers and tanker aircraft), eight Su-34s and four Su-27SMs all operating from land-bases within the Russian Federation on lengthy strike missions to Syria against forces such as ISIL/Daesh.

French warcraft

Apart from Russia, French warcraft bombed targets they say are from ISIL/Daesh as well during the same night in Northern Syria, in what could may have been jointly co-ordinated attacks. France is stepping up its military operations in the area after ISIL has claimed responsibility of the terror attacks in Paris during the weekend. The attacks claimed the lives of at least 129 people. The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle – with on board Rafale multi-role fighters – is steaming towards the Eastern Mediterranean.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The Tu-160 (Image © Tupolev)

Russian Bear crash

UPDATED | A Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95 (“Bear”) strategic bomber went down on Tuesday at around UTC 06:50 in Siberia, the Ministry of Defence in Moscow stated. It also stated seven crew members bailed out using parachutes. Two more crew members died in the crash however.

According to the official statement the Tu-95 was unarmed, executing a routine training exercise when it encountered problems in mid-air about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the city of Khabarovsk in Siberia. The crash site is about 30 miles (50 km) from the city in an uninhabited area.

The Bear crash is the sixth of a Russian Air Force plane in as many weeks time and the second of a Tu-95 in roughly more than a week. On 6 July both pilots of a Bear Tu-95 were killed when the bomber ended off the runway at Ukrainka Airbase. Earlier a Sukhoi Su-24M went down, as well as two MiG-29s. A Su-34 landing went wrong near Moscow.

On Monday July 6th, a Tu-95 strategic bomber suffered an engine fire and overshot the landing strip at Ukrainka Airbase in the Russian Far East, where flights against Japan and the Western United States are conducted. Both pilots were killed.

The Tu-95s (Туполев Ту-95 in Russian) have been in service since 1956. Of the more than 500 built under Soviet Union times, 56 or 57 remain in service since today’s crash but many are likely not in airworthy condition. They are tasked with strategic bombing and are nuclear capable.

Source: Russian Ministry of Defence, with additional reporting by Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Tupolev Tu-95 bomber of the Russian Air Force (Image © RAF)

Russia grounds the Bear

The Russian Tu-95 Bear long range bomber aircraft are grounded following an accident in which  a fire erupted on board an aircraft, Russian media reported on June 9. The fire broke out in an engine and caused the aircraft to leave the runway at Ukrainka airfield, injuring several crew members.

The Russian Air Force’s Bear aircraft – 71 in total – will remain on the ground while an investigation into the fire takes place. The Bear is perhaps the most visibile example of Russian air power, since the type is regularly seen in the skies near Western Europe during military exercises. Many of last year’s NATO scrambles where direct at Bear bombers taking part in such exercises.

The very first prototype Bear, featuring massive contra-rotating propellers, first flew on 2 November 1952, only months after its US counterpart, the B-52 Stratofortress. With the Bears grounded, Russia falls back on its limited fleet of Tu-160 Blackjack bombers for its long range strike capability.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A Tu-95 Bear seen during an interception by the RAF (Image © UK Ministry of Defence)


Russia: 13 long-range bombers to be modernized in 2015

The Russian Air Force is planning to modernize 13 long-range bombers this year, according to a statement by Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Shoygu on 1 March 2015.

In 2014 two Tupolev Tu-160 (NATO-name “Blackjack”) and five Tu-95MS (NATO-name “Bear”) upgraded strategic bombers were rotated back to active duty. By 2020 seventy percent of the Russian long-range bomber fleet is expected to have gone through the update program.

Meant to keep the Tupolevs longer in service, the Russian Defence Ministry did not elaborate on how many more years they are supposed to serve. “But our strategic missile carriers will be on the forefront of protecting the motherland,” Mr. Shoygu said. That includes them going for ‘outings’ to get photographed by NATO aircraft like the RAF Typhoons lately and training on in-flight refuelling.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Tu-160 strategic bomber (Image © Tupolev)

↑ Production started on new IL-78 tanker aircraft

Russian Bears are out again

In the cold skies over the English Channel, Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons met up with Russian Tu-95 Bears again on Wednesday 28 January. The Russian long range bombers aircraft were detected by the RAF Control and Reporting Centre in Boulmer, after which two Typhoons were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

The Typhoons visually identified and escorted the Russian aircraft through and out of the UK Flight Information Region (FIR). The Bears did not enter UK airspace. Air-to-air refueling for the Typhoons was provided by an Airbus Voyager MRTT from Brize Norton. Total mission time for the entire mission was 12 hours,  according to the RAF.

Last year, Russian aircraft became a familiar sight in Europe. Not only strategic bombers, but also tactical bombers such as the Su-34 Fullback showed themselves, sometimes at very close range. According to NATO, over 400 intercepts were carried out on Russian aircraft in 2014. Especially 28 and 29 October proved to be busy days.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Tu-95 intercepted by the RAF (Image © UK Ministry of Defence)