Tu-95 Bear: The Story of the Colossal Soviet “Bear” That Continues to Haunt the West

A veteran of the skies continues to defy the passage of time with his aviation robustness. It’s about Tu-95 Bear, a “bear” bomber developed by the USSR in the middle of the Cold War, but more than 70 years later it continues under the command of the Russian armed forces.

This aircraft first flew on November 12, 1952.and joined the Soviet Union’s long-haul airlines in 1956. Although it took until 2015 to first see combat use when it attacked ISIS targets in Syria, its effectiveness has not diminished over time. Similar to the US B-52 Stratofortress, the Tu-95 is still active and is expected to remain in the Russian Aerospace Forces until at least 2040.

In addition, the Tu-95 bears the title of being the only strategic bomber with a propeller still in operational use. According to the Federation of American Scientists, “The Tu-95 BEAR is arguably the most successful bomber in Soviet aviation, with long service in various roles and configurations.”

Is he the only fighter aircraft with turboprop engines used by a countryand provides exceptional durability at speeds just below those of turbojet bombers.”

In terms of speed, the Tu-95M variant or “Bear A” reaches 925 km/hh, while the Tu-95MS “Oso H” armed with cruise missiles reaches 830 km/h. In comparison, the B-52 “BUFF” jet can fly up to 1,046 km/h.

The bear is not only impressive in the air; its size is colossal. It weighs up to 190 tons at launch, is 49.1 meters long and has a wingspan of 50.1 meters. The tail height reaches 13.4 meters. The Bear A can carry up to 12,000 kilos of bombs. Its range is 13,200 km and it is powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12MV turboprops. The crew varies between 6 and 7 people depending on the mission.

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Continuing the parallel between the B-52 and the Tu-95, their longevity is largely due to their versatility. The bear has been adapted into nine different variants, which goes beyond its original role as a nuclear bomber. Its functions have become more diverse: from electronic reconnaissance and photographic reconnaissance (Tu-95RTs/Oso D and Tu-95U/Oso E) to anti-submarine warfare (Tu-142/Oso F) and underwater communications relay (Tu -142MR/Bear). J). This even resulted in a variant for passenger airlines, known as the Tu-114.

Although the BUFF can carry more bombs than the bearOne aspect that makes the Russian bomber stand out is its rear defense. While the USAF removed the tail gun from its B-52s and the B-52’s last air defense gunner, Rob Wellbaum, retired in 2017, the Bear retains its two Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23 autocannons. 23 mm, demonstrating its strength capabilities in a video released by the Russian Ministry of Defense in July 2021.

In Shakespeare’s time, baiting the bear was a popular entertainment, but The Tu-95 is a mechanical bear that discourages any provocation. Its presence in the sky symbolizes not only the strength and resilience of Russian aviation, but also its adaptability and ability to evolve in the theater of modern wars.

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