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Tu-95 BEAR (TUPOLEV) Variants

With the exception of Bear A, all models are equipped with a nose probe for aerial refueling.

BEAR A - TU-95 / TU-95M -- The Bear A is a long-range strategic bomber that is capable of high-altitude precision bombing. The TU-95 and TU-95M bombers were designed to carry 9,000 kg of bombs at their maximum design range. Six radar-controlled turret-mounted AM-23 guns were used for self-defense. The first two fully equipped Tu-95 aircraft were completed in August 1955 and began flight tests in October 1955. Carrying a load of 5,000 kg, it reached a maximum speed of 850 km/h and a service ceiling of 10,200 m with a maximum range of 12,100 km. The second aircraft, designated as TU-95M, had more powerful and more fuel-efficient NK-12M engines allowing for increased take-off weight. During tests in September and October 1957, it reached a maximum speed of 905 km/h, a ceiling of 12,150 m and a range of 13,200 km. Despite falling short of range and speed requirements, deployment began in October 1957. During work on these aircraft, development of a bomber with improved abilities to counter air defenses continued. In 1952 the government ordered a high-altitude strategic bomber with a ceiling of 17,000 m. A prototype equipped with NK-12M engines was used in tests, but development was halted because the increased altitude did not increase the survivability of the bomber. Most 'Bear-As' were subsequently converted to the missile-carrying Bear-B configuration. About a dozen surviving 'Bear-As' were converted to Tu-95U configuration for training duties. The bomb bay was 14.2 m (46.6 ft) long.

BEAR - TU-95V -- The Tu-95V, built in 1956, was intended to carry large hydrogen bombs. Because hydrogen bombs were not operational until the end of the 1950s, this aircraft was used for training purposes. In 1961, overhaul of a TU-95V aircraft took place at the plant Nr. 18 in Kuibyshev. A single Tu-95V bomber was built on the basis of the Tu-95M specially for testing the 100 MT thermonuclear bomb. This bomb, named «Van-ya» (Product 700), was made at Min-sredmash KB-11 (Design Bureau Ns 11 of Medium Machinery industry Ministery). This bomber got a larger bomb bay, which was equipped with a superstrong bomb holder. On 30 October 1961 the bomb drop was performed above Novaya Zemlya firing ground. The yield was estimated at 58-65 Mt only, but it was the most powerful nuclear explosion in the world. This version of the BEAR A was apparently not recognized as a distinct variant by Western intelligence, and did not receive a separate designation.

BEAR - TU-95N -- In 1958 a single aircraft, developed by OKB-256 P.V. Tsibin, was converted into the TU-95N and used to carry the "2RS" attack aircraft. This scheme was called conditionally "sheep and the shepherd." In 1955 work began in OKB-256, led by Chief Designer P.V.Tsybin, on the "RS" strategic supersonic attack system project. The system was supposed to make a composite: the first stage - the carrier aircraft Tu-95N, the second stage - supersonic bomber RS, which was launched from an aircraft carrier (topic close to work Tupolev system "108"). The carrier aircraft Tu-95N aircraft in the Air Force Museum in g.Monino. After separation from the Tu-95N plane RS had to accelerate to a cruising speed of 3000 km / h using 2 ramjet engines. Until the moment of separation from the aircraft carrier, the RS would have been carried by the Tu-95N with a semi-flush special suspension. Its return on board the Tu-95N was not provided. Estimated total range system was 12500-13500 km.

Decree number 1974-776 USSR CM system development came July 30, 1955. According to it, the OKB-156 was to convert the serial Tu-95, released by the Air Force, into the aircraft carrier Tu-95N. After preliminary joint work with OKB-256, in the second half of 1956 design work began on the alteration of the original aircraft. Work in OKB-156 was headed by IF Nezval, with design first in the Flight Test base in Zhukovsky, and then in the branch of OKB-156 Tomilino. The hatch under the fuselage of the Tu-95N to suspend the RS aircraft fuselage demanded major changes and adjacent parts of the serial Tu-95. Accommodation units of special equipment, providing suspension and transport aircraft fuselage RS on the Tu-95N proved quite difficult, because the loads weighing 30-40 tons and the large size. All the system work was carried out on a full-scale mockup. When all the equipment and installations were ready, they started to design a new fuselage for the Tu-95N.

By late summer 1957, OKB Tupolev started production of working drawings and transfer them to the factory, which carried out alteration of the serial Tu-95 into the Tu-95N. In 1958, the aircraft carrier was ready and flew to the FRI airfield in Zhukovsky. Everything was ready for the installation of special equipment and production test. However, in the same year, the Government approved the decision to cease all work on an "RS". Tu-95N remained without suspension and spent some time at OKB-156, and in the 1960s was transferred to the Air Force in Monino Myzey, where it is now. The fact of the existence of this project was apparently not detected at the time by Western intelligence, and this variant did not receive a separate designation in the West.

BEAR B - TU-95K / TU-95KD -- The Bear B carried one Kangaroo (350 nm range) air-to-surface missile partially recessed within the aircraft fuselage. The most visible change from the BEAR A TU-95M is the addition of the broad, flat-bottomed radome under the nose, which housed a 3.3-meter wide low I-band A-336Z Crown Drum scanning antenna for the missile guidance radar. Development of the TU-25K-20 weapon system, consisting of the TU-95K and the supersonic Kk-20 (AS-3) air-to-surface missile, began in March 1955. The "K-20" nomenclature appears to encompass both the aircraft and the missile, and the "Tu-95K-20" nomenclature used by some sources may be in error]. With a range of 350 km, sufficient to overcome air defenses, the air-to-surface missile was located under the fuselage. The first flight of the prototype was on 01 January 1956, and through development continued on the missile launch and guidance system, the aircraft's airframe, and the onboard electronics. Series production of the TU-95K began in the spring of 1958, with operational deployment beginning in September 1959. The additional fuel tanks and the missile of the Tu-95K resulted in an increase of weight and drag that reduced the range of the aircraft. This performance deficit had to be offset by aerial refueling. Work on this "hose-cone" system started in May 1960 and was completed in 1961. The bombers that were outfitted with this air refueling system received the designation Tu-95KD. Some 'Bear-Bs' were relegated to training duties.

BEAR C - TU-95KM -- In the 1960s several TU-95K and TU-95KD bombers received a new radio engineering and navigation system, and their designation changed to TU-95KM [some Western sources claim that the Tu-95KM Bear-C was a new-build aircraft, rather than a conversion]. The Bear C is similar in appearance to the late-series Bear B Tu-95KDs, with the addition of two pairs of reconnaissance radomes located on opposite sides of the aft section of the fuselage. Many Tu-95KMs were upgraded to the 'Bear-G' configuration and none are believed to remain operational in the original configuration.

Tu-96 the development of high-speed bomber with turboprop engines NK-16 did not fly.

Tu-119 development on the basis of the test bench Tu-95M to the atomic engine did not fly .

BEAR D - TU-95RTs -- The Bear D is a variant of Bear A which can also perform ELINT reconnaissance. The TU-95RTS maritime reconnaissance aircraft was developed in the early 1960s, and conducted its' first flight test in September 1962. Series production began in 1963 [some Western sources suggest that the aircraft were converted from surplus Tu-95M 'Bear-As]. The TU-95RTS began flying with naval aviation in 1964 and was introduced into the operational inventory by spring of 1966 with it being first identified by Western intelligence in 1967.

The new variant was distinguished by a new enlarged chin radome, and much larger Big Bulge I-band search radar in place of the former weapons bay. This search radar provided mid-course missile guidance, acquiring targets for ship-, submarine- and air-launched missiles. The Tu-95RTs, although built on the airframe of a heavy bomber, was designed and built as a maritime patrol airplane. The TU-95RTs maritime patrol airplanes were not and have not been used as heavy bombers, nor have they been equipped with air-to-surface weapons or undergone conversion.

Tu-95RTs airplanes had external features distinguishing them from heavy bombers of the Tu-95 type: they have no bomb bays, no external carrier beams to suspend or carry aerial bombs or missiles, and no equipment necessary for control of such weapons. Other differences characteristic of these airplanes are the additional three-dimensional radomes of the surface situation surveillance equipment under the fuselage and on the sides of the airplane.

As of mid-1991 the Soviet Union had 37 Tu-95RTs airplanes, which were based only at naval air bases. Under the START I Treaty, all Tu-95 variants should be either deployed heavy bombers, non-nuclear heavy bombers, test heavy bombers, training heavy bombers, or former heavy bombers. The START II Twelfth Agreed Statement, however, exempts the 37 existing TU-95RTs (Bear D) maritime patrol airplanes from being considered as former heavy bombers. The proposal complements and amplifies that Agreed Statement by providing information on the Tu-95RTs, as well as the opportunity to verify that information. The 31 July 1991 exchange of letters between Ambassadors Brooks and Nazarkin stipulated that the airplanes are for maritime operations, are not heavy bombers, and have not been equipped with air-to-surface weapons or undergone conversion; it also lists distinguishing features for these airplanes and stipulates that the Soviet Union has 37 such airplanes.

The 37 airplanes were not to be based at air bases for heavy bombers or former heavy bombers, heavy bomber flight test centers, or training facilities for heavy bombers. They would not be considered to be former heavy bombers and thus would not be "accountable" under the Treaty limits for heavy bombers equipped for non-nuclear armaments, training heavy bombers, and former heavy bombers. In the event the Soviet Union continued to produce such airplanes, all such new airplanes would be treated as former heavy bombers under the Treaty and subject to inspection to confirm that they are not equipped for air-to-surface weapons. The Parties agreed that not later than 240 days after signature of the Treaty, the Soviet Union is (i) to provide photographs to aid in the identification of such airplanes, (ii) conduct an exhibition of one such airplane, under specified conditions, and (iii) exhibit, upon request of the United States, the other 36 such airplanes under specified conditions. By 1994, about 15 were believed to remain in service.

BEAR E - TU-95U -- The Bear E is a variant of Bear A modified to perform photo-reconnaissance. According to Western sources about 12 were produced for Naval Aviation by conversion of surplus Tu-95Ms. The aircraft features a slightly bulged removable reconnaissance pallet in the former bomb bay, with seven camera windows -- three side-by-side pairs of windows forward with a single window further aft to starboard. Under the START I agreement, the Parties agreed that all airplanes formerly known to the United States of America as Bear E and now known as Bear T, which are designated by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as Tu-95U, were to be considered to be training heavy bombers. Red bands are painted around the rear fuselage for verification purposes.

BEAR F - TU-142 / TU-142M -- The Tupolev Tu-142 'Bear' is the final maritime version of an aircraft originally introduced as a strategic bomber in the early 1950s. It was also one of the most visible, and Soviet Bears flew long patrols across all major oceans. They monitored the US coast from a base in Cuba, and they observed the British Task Force off the Falkland Islands, by flying from Angola. Throughout the 1980s they operated from the former US base at Cam Ranh in Vietnam. The Bear F exists in two major versions with differing numbers of radomes consisting of at least four distinct variants [up to at least the Bear-F Mod IV]. The mission of the Bear F is the detection and destruction of submarines. Development of the Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft began in the mid-1960s, soon after the initiation of the BEAR D Tu-95RTS. Design changes include a new cockpit and slightly longer nose' along with a new undercarriage (with bulged undercarriage doors) and an extended-chord rudder. The Tu-142 lacks dorsal and ventral gun turrets. This upgraded version of the TU-95RTS, with more powerful NK-12MV engines, began flight tests in the summer of 1968 and was deployed with naval aviation in December 1972.

According to Russian sources, series production took place at the plant Nr. 18 in Kuibyshev and from the mid-1970s at Plant Nr. 86 in Taganrog. Western sources report that the production line at Taganrog reopened in 1983 to build the Bear-F and Bear-H. Upgrading of the TU-142 in 1972 resulted in the TU-142M, used for anti-submarine warfare. The first flight of the TU-142M [Bear F Mod 2 ] was on 04 November 1975, and deployment to the Soviet Naval Aviation began in 1980. The Tu-142M2 [Bear-F Mod 3], which entered service around 1982, featured a new MAD in a spike-like tail fairing and a lengthened sonobuoy bay. The Tu-142M3 [Bear-F Mod 4] incorporated a new undernose sensor pacakge. First identified by Western intelligence in 1986, the Bear-F Mod 4 remained in low volume production at the end of the 1990s. The Tu-142 (Bear F) antisubmarine warfare patrol airplanes, although designated by the Soviet Union as a separate type of airplane from the Tu-95, have a design essentially identical to the design of the Tu-95 heavy bomber. Under the START I agreement, all airplanes designated by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as Tu-142, which are known to the United States of America as Bear F or Bear J, depending on how a particular airplane is equipped, were not considered to be former heavy bombers.

Tu-142M «Bear-F Mods 2-4" ASW variants, with lengthened fuselage, redesigned cockpit and descending a gas bar; Mod 3 plane has a protruding pin back the magnetic detector in the end section of the keel, more streamlined rear fuselage; Mod 4 is similar to the previous one, but with a radome radar antenna at the tip in the center of glazed bow; a group of new multisensor antenna under the bow of the new antennas and early warning under the tail; exported to India.

BEAR F - TU-142LL -- At least one 'Bear-F' was converted to serve as an engine test bed, with the test engine mounted in a semi-retractable cradle under the center-section.

BEAR - TU-95K5 -- In 1976-1977 work began on developing a new Bear modification, the TU-95K-5, that was supposed to carry two KSR-5 [AS-6 KINGFISH] missiles. However, all activities soon halted due to both a decision to produce the TU-95K-22, and the development of the TU-95MS aircraft. The fact of the existence of this design project was not detected at the time by Western intelligence, and this variant did not receive a separate designation in the West, since it did not enter flight tests or production.

BEAR G - TU-95K22 -- In the early 1970s work began on equipping older existing TU-95K and TU-95KD bombers with Kh-22 air-to-surface missiles and the guidance systems that were used on the Backfire bombers. These older BEAR aircraft configured to carry air-to-surface missiles (ASMs) were reconfigured to carry the new supersonic AS-4 missile in place of the subsonic AS-3. These bombers received the designation TU-95K-22 and carried either one Kh-22M missile under the fuselage or two Kh-22H missiles on pylons underneath the wings. The broad flat nose radome differs in detail from that of the Bear-B and Bear-C, and accommodates the antenna for the Down Beat guidance radar for the Kh-22. The comprehensive defensive avionics suite is evidenced by the numerous radomes and fairings on the fuselage, marking a fundamental shift in survivability ideology. The self-defence armament is correspondingly reduced compared to earlier models. An extended tailcone replaced the tail turret and the dorsal turret was removed entirely, leaving only a single ventral gun turret. First flight tests of the TU-95K-22 took place in October 1975 and by the end of the 1970s re-equipment of the TU-95K started. After operation testing, the TU-95K-22 was introduced into the active inventory in 1982. Several of these reconfigurations (BEAR G) had been completed by 1985. By 1998 more than 45 of these reconfigured aircraft were operational.

BEAR - TU-95M-55 -- In the middle of the 1970s work on the Kh-55 long rang air-to-surface missile started. Originally planned for deployment on the new TU-160 supersonic bombers, studies were conducted to outfit the TU-95 with the Kh-55. The tests of TU-95 bombers outfitted with Kh-55 missiles, designated Tu-95M-55, started in 1978. After their completion, the project was rejected and development of a new Tu-95MS aircraft to carry the Kh-55 missiles was initiated. It is unclear whether the fact of the existence of this design project was detected at the time by Western intelligence, and in any event this variant did not receive a separate designation in the West.

BEAR H - TU-95MS -- The Tu-95MS aircraft is based on the Tu-142 and thus differs in a number of details from the TU-95. The nose of the Tu-95MS is similar to that of the Bear-C and Bear-G, but with a deeper, shorter radome, cable ducts running back along both sides of the fuselage. It lacks the 178-cm forward fuselage plug of the maritime Tu-142, and retains the shorter fin and horizontal, undrooped refuelling probe of previous bomber variants. The rear gun turret is a new design, with a single twin-barreled GSh-23L cannon in place of the pair of single-barrel NR-23s carried on earlier models.

After carrying out successful tests, the first of which was in September 1979, series production started in 1981. With the reopening of the BEAR production line, the Soviets began producing a new, upgraded variant of the BEAR turboprop bomber, thereby increasing their long-range bomber force. This entirely new variant of the BEAR bomber - the BEAR H - became the launch platform for the long-range Kh-55 [AS-15] air-launched cruise missile. The initial version carried Kh-55 air-to-surface missiles located in the bomb bay on a catapult. This was the first new production of a strike version of the BEAR airframe since the 1960s. With the BEAR H in series production, the decline in the inventory of BEAR aircraft, characteristic of the late 1970s, was reversed. By 1988 BEAR H bombers were regularly observed simulating attacks against North America.

Russia in 2015-2016 will upgrade at least ten strategic bombers Tu-95MS, the press-service of the United Aircraft-building Corporation told TASS on 17 March 2015. "Last year the Russian Air Force received eight upgraded Tu-95MS bombers, and at least ten more will re-enter duty in 2015-2016," the UAC press-service quoted the chief of the flight test and tune-up base at Zhukovsky, Alexander Kosarev, as saying.

The Zhukovsky upgrade base (an affiliate of Tupolev) replaces radio-electronic equipment and improves the parameters of the navigation complex and landing systems.

"In the process of modernization some fundamentally new technological processes had to be mastered and new equipment and tools employed. Everything was accomplished within tight deadlines and with high quality," the Zhukovsky base’s deputy chief for production, Vladimir Khokhlov, said.

The Russian Air Force has several dozen Tu-95MS bombers carrying strategic cruise missiles X-55. At the end of 2014 Air Force commander Viktor Bondarev said that in 2014 eight planes of this type were returned to the Air Force after overhaul and upgrade. In 2015, Russia’s fleet of Tu-95MS would grow to 43. Around 70% of the Russian Armed Forces’ strategic aviation is expected to be modernized by 2020, according to the defense minister.

The Russian Defense Ministry will receive seven more modernized Tu-95MS strategic cruise missile carriers, Tupolev PJSC director general Alexander Konyukhov said 15 July 2016. The ministry had already received the first Tu-95MS aircraft, which had been modernized in accordance with the state requirements and technical documentation, according to Konyukhov. "In accordance with conditions of state contracts, the Russian Defense Ministry will receive seven more modernized Tu-95MS planes," Konyukhov said.

As of 2017 the exact number of modernized machines, however, was not yet specified. According to various estimates, by the present time about a dozen planes had been updated.

BEAR H6 - TU-95MS6 -- The version designated as TU-95MS6 aircraft carried Kh-55 air-to-surface missiles located in the bomb bay on a rotary launcher.

BEAR H16 - TU-95MS16 -- The TU-95MS16 carried six missiles inside the fuselage and 10 missiles underneath the wings. Three underwing pylons are fitted under each inner wing panel, the outboard pair carrying three missiles and the other two single missiles.

BEAR H?? - TU-95MSM -- The modernized Tu-95 is equipped with advanced radio-radar equipment as well as a target-acquiring/navigation system based on GLONASS. The aircraft can carry up to eight Kh-101 strategic cruise missiles or Kh-102 nuclear-tipped missiles on the wing’s external mountings. The previous Tu-95 modification was armed with six Kh-55 cruise missiles on a rotary launching mechanism in the bay. The Kh-101 is bigger than the Kh-55, and cannot be carried in the bay of the aircraft.

The Kh-101 has an operation range of up to 5,500 kilometers, with a complex trajectory. It can travel at an altitude of 30 meters above the ground. The Kh-101 is invisible to radar and has an accuracy of five meters. The missile is guided with a combined navigation system – inertial and GLONASS. It hits the target with a 400-kg warhead or 250-kiloton nuclear warhead.

It is curious that the upgraded Tu-95MSM was not only used for patrolling, but they had already taken part in training events and real combat operations. So, from the fall of 2015, Russian long-distance aviation is regularly involved in striking at targets of terrorist organizations in Syria.

BEAR J - TU-142MR -- The TU-142MR was a further modification of the Tu-142M used for submarine communication relay. This allowed national command authorities and strategic missile-carrying submarines to communicate. The underfuselage search radar has been removed, and the aircraft is equipped with an underfuselage winch pod for a several kilometer long trailing wire antenna. The Tu-142 (Bear J) maritime communications relay airplane, although designated by the Soviet Union as a separate type of airplane from the Tu-95, has a design essentially identical to the design of the Tu-95 heavy bomber. Under the START I agreement, all airplanes designated by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as Tu-142, which are known to the United States of America as Bear F or Bear J, depending on how a particular airplane is equipped, were not considered to be former heavy bombers.

BEAR T - TU-95U -- About a dozen surviving 'Bear-As' were converted to Tu-95U configuration, with sealed bomb bays and a broad red band painted around the rear fuselage. Under the START I agreement, the Parties agreed that all airplanes formerly known to the United States of America as Bear E and now known as Bear T, which are designated by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as Tu-95U, were to be considered to be training heavy bombers. Most served with the Long-Range Aviation training center at Ryazan, and most were withdrawn from use during 1991 and 1992



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