From the very beginning of the serial production of the Tu-95, the development of improved modifications of this aircraft began, equipped with more advanced equipment and guided weapons, which allow hitting targets without entering the enemy's air defense zone.
The first modification appeared two years after the start of serial production of the aircraft in 1955: even more powerful NK-12M engines were supplied to it, thanks to which the entire aircraft received the designation Tu-95M. Under it, she began to enter service with the troops. However, the latter is not entirely accurate. All modifications of the Tu-95, there are 27, including two passenger models, reconnaissance aircraft, AWACS, anti-submarine and so on. So the troops and civil aviation received those modifications that were required for each specific purpose and conditions. The first missile carrier in the Tu-95 family was the Tu-95K, which was launched into production in 1958. In the mid-1960s. on the missile carriers, the avionics were modernized, after which these aircraft were assigned the designation Tu-95KM. The vehicles received an advanced Kh-20M cruise missile with a maximum launch range of 600 km. The Tu-95M, a further development of the Tu-95 with the improved NK-12M engines, made its first flight in 1957.
From 1955 to 1958, 31 Tu-95 and 19 Tu-95M aircraft were built at the P18 plant in Kuibyshev. Later, all Tu-95 bombers were upgraded to the level of Tu-95M. These aircraft remained in service until the mid-1980s, after which some of them were converted into Tu-95U trainer aircraft, which were used until the early 1990s.
In the 1960s, several special-purpose aircraft were developed on the basis of the Tu-95 - the Tu-95RTs ocean reconnaissance aircraft, the Tu-126 AWACS aircraft and the Tu-142 long-range anti-submarine aircraft. In 1964. a strategic reconnaissance aircraft Tu-95RA with equipment for radio-technical and photographic reconnaissance was created. This aircraft became the first of the "ninety-fifths" family to receive an in-flight refueling system of the "hose-cone" type.
In the early 1970s, at the Raduga Design Bureau under the leadeship of General Designer I.S. Seleznev, work began on the creation of the X-55 small-sized strategic aviation cruise missiles. A modernized version of the Tu-142M aircraft, designated Tu-142MS, was proposed as a carrier of the new weapon. TsAGI employees made a significant contribution to the formation of the concept of this complex. Initially, the Tu-142MS was considered as an alternative to the more complex and expensive multi-mode Tu-160 bomber, also equipped with a CD. In the future, it was decided to continue working on the programs in parallel.
Conversion of the serial Tu-142M aircraft into a full-fledged missile carrier equipped with a full set of equipment and weapons began in July 1977 and was completed in September 1979. On July 31, the modernized aircraft made its maiden flight. The aircraft, designated Tu-95MS, made its first flight in September 1979, and in 1981 a new missile carrier was launched into series at the Taganrog Aviation Plant. In 1983, its production was transferred to Kuibyshev (now Samara).
In 1989, the serial Tu-95MS set 60 records for speed and altitude with a load. In the 1980s, the USSR began work on the creation of a new generation of strategic bomber designed to replace Tu-95MS aircraft. However, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economic crisis in Russia and the resulting sharp reduction in defense spending led to a slowdown in work on re-equipping Long-Range Aviation with new models of aviation technology. In these conditions, the tasks of modernizing the existing aircraft fleet of Long-Range Aviation came to the fore.
Serial production of the Tu-95MS continued until early 1992. Various modifications of the aircraft were in service with the Long-Range Aviation and the Navy until the collapse of the USSR. After that, the Tu-95s were at the disposal of the Russian and Ukrainian air forces. Currently, the Russian Air Force has 28 Tu-95MS-6 and 35 Tu-95MS-16 aircraft. In addition, Ukraine has 23 aircraft. In Ukraine, the aircraft have not found use and are under conservation.
Due to its ease of operation and reliability, the Tu-95 remained in service even after the adoption of the much more advanced supersonic missile carrier Tu-160, which, however, requires the creation of an expensive special maintenance infrastructure.
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