Tu-95 Bear Bomber
The Tu-95 is the world's only swept-wing turboprop ever to enter service. Its distinct engines, each with two counter-rotating propellers, also make the Bear the fastest propeller-driven airplane ever built.
The original Tu-95 was designed to carry two nuclear bombs to targets in the continental US.
Later versions carried cruise missiles for long-ange stand-off missions. The Bear has also been used for reconnaissance, especially by the Soviet/Russian Navy which used the aircraft to locate US aircraft carrier task forces.
A specialized variant of the Bear is the Tu-142 dedicated to maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare. Over 300 Bears were built.
The significance of the Soviet era Kh-55SM should not be underestimated. This is the most capable strategic cruise missile in service globally, other than the US AGM-86B ALCM and BGM-109B Tomahawk. It is the backbone of the Russian air launched nuclear deterrent, equipping the Tu-95MS Bear H and Tu-160 Blackjack A bombers. Russian sources claim that Raduga's early work on these weapons was opposed by many Russian experts who were deeply sceptical of the viability of such a complex new weapon.
The Kh-55 family of weapons most closely resemble the early US BGM-109 Tomahawk in concept, using a cylindrical fuselage with pop out planar wings, unfolding tail control surfaces, and a ventral turbofan engine, with guidance provided by a TERrain COntour Matching (TERCOM) aided inertial navigation system.
Jul 8, 2011, 11:03 GMT
Moscow - The Japanese air force scrambled jet fighters to intercept a pair of Russian naval bombers patrolling over the northeast Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, Russian officials said Friday.
The two Tu-95 turboprop bombers remained in international air space for their entire 11-hour flight, according to Defence MInistry spokesman Vladimir Drik.
Japan sent two-fighter pairs of F-15 and F-2 aircraft to intercept and then escort the Russian bombers over portions of the flight, and there was no conflict between the two sides, Drik said, the Interfax news agency reported.
Tu-20 Original designation for the Tu-95/Tu-142 aircraft
Appearance of Tu-95 at July 1955 Aviation Display at Tushino put western observers at a loss. A combination of propellers and swept wing and tail surfaces seemed to be inappropriate and early analysis of Bear's performance resulted in unrealistically downplayed bomber's performance. Western experiments with supersonic propellers flown on XF-84H and XF-88B have shown considerable loss in performance of the high-rotating propeller when tips were reaching supersonic speeds.
In 1975 the figure for range changed to 7,800 miles and currently it is believed to be 9,200 miles with 25,000 lb load. Level speed was admitted to be 570 mph (Mach 0.82) at 25,000 ft and 520 mph (Mach 0.785) at 41,000 ft. Cruising speed of Tu-95 is 442 mph (Mach 0.67). Later versions with more powerful engines have higher performance.
Max. speed at 25,000 ft 575 mph, at S/L 404 mph, nominal cruising speed 442 mph, ceiling 39,370 ft, combat radius with 25,000 lb payload 3,975 miles, with one in-flight refueling 5,155 miles.
It is rumored that Bear is known to be able to out accelerate contemporary western interceptors. This hard to believe fact can be accounted by use of variable-pitch propellers of NK-12M turboprops. Modern jets need to use afterburners to keep up with accelerating Bear. In fact, one of the photo showing Panavia Toronado using reheat on one of the engines while pursuing this remarkable bomber.
Presumably, Bear holds an unofficial speed record for a prop-driven aircraft...
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