The turboprop-powered Tu-95 bomber entered service in 1956 and remains an important part of Russia’s long-range air power. Its Western reporting name is Bear. At the time of its introduction it was the only Soviet bomber, which could reach the United States without in-flight refueling.
The current carrier version of the bomber/missile is the Tu-95MS (Western designation Bear-H). It entered service in 1984 and was produced until 1992. There are two subvariants, both based on the maritime Tu-142. The Tu-95MS16 (Bear-H16) carries 16 long-range air-launched cruise missiles (6 internally and 10 externally). The Tu-95MS6 (Bear-H6) is the more advanced version, with the provision for the external missile carrier removed in accordance with the SALT/START agreement.
About 60 Tu-95s of both variants were based on heavy bomber regiments at Engels and Ukrainka. This number includes three aircraft previously detained in Ukraine. The air force also operates 11 previous Tu-95KU models as trainers.
The main weᴀpon is the Kh-55 air-launched cruise missile. This is a long range stalemate weᴀpon. There are conventional and nuclear versions of this missile. Modern versions of the Tu-95, including the T-95MS, can also carry the Kh-101 and Kh-102 air-launched cruise missiles.
In 1987 a much more capable Tu-160 long-range strategic bomber was introduced. It was the second Soviet bomber, which could reach the United States without in-flight refueling. However these bombers are very expensive to build ants to maintain. As a result it could never replace the aging Tu-95.
Variant Tupolev Tu-95 Bomber
The Tu-142 is a long-range maritime patrol aircraft (Western reporting name Bear-F). This is the main variant of the Tu-95. It is designed primarily for anti-submarine and various naval roles. It carries submarine detection equipment. It inherited two large bays from the Tu-95 bomber. It can carry over 11,000 kg of ordnance, including torpedoes and depth bombs. Some of the latest versions have the capability to carry Kh-35 anti-ship cruise missiles.
About 100 examples were made, including variants, between 1968 and 1994. This type is still in use in Russia, as there is no proper replacement for this aircraft. The main surviving anti-submarine weᴀpon variants are the upgraded Tu-142MK (Bear-F Mod.3) and Tu-142MZ (Bear-F Mod.4), the last of which was completed in 1994. In 2018 only 12 Tu- The 142MK/MZ maritime patrol aircraft reportedly remain in service with Russian Naval Aviation.
The surviving fuselage is likely to be updated in 2020 with a new submarine detection system. The sole export operator of the Tu-142 is the Indian Navy which acquired eight Tu-142 MK-Es and operated them at Arrakonam. This is an export-derived version with a specific-derived system, modified for operation in tropical climates. The Indian Navy retired this aircraft in 2017.
The Tu-142MR (Bear-J) is a command post/communication relay platform for communicating with submerged nuclear missile-armed submarines. In 2018 Russian Naval Aviation reportedly operated 10 of these aircraft.