09:46 GMT17 January 2021
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    Many believe that Russia’s veteran Tu-95 strategic bomber is hopelessly passé, but more than sixty years after it hit the skies in 1952, Tupolev’s legendary “Bear” still remains a formidable weapon to be reckoned with.

    Even though the four-engine strategic bomber and maritime patrol plane may look like “a  monstrosity lurching in from prehistoric times, the Tu-95 remains in service because few aircraft can cover such great distances for such long periods of time while carrying a hefty payload,” Sebastian Roblin wrote in the latest issue of National Interest journal.

    In addition, the Tu-95 is one of the fastest turboprop planes in aviation history. It has one downside though: because of its twin contrarotating propellers, the noise produced by Tu-95s has reportedly been remarked upon by submarine crews and even jet pilots.

    “The Tu-95 is Russia’s B-52 — but one with a decidedly maritime bent and a habit of knocking at the door of coastal air-defense systems in Europe, Asia and North America,” Roblin wrote.

    He added that with a new weapons array installed, the Tu-95 gets a new lease on life.

    “Of course, the Bear is anything but stealthy and could not survive against modern air- and surface-launched antiaircraft missiles. However, a Bear launching cruise missiles doesn’t have to get close to air defenses in the first place,” Sebastian Roblin noted.

    Over 500 Tu-95s of different modifications have rolled off the assembly line since they entered service in 1956.

    In an interview with Sputnik, editor-in-chief of National Defense journal Igor Korotchenko expanded on the specific features of the Tu-95MS strategic bomber.

    “The Tu-95SM is part of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. This tried-and-true workhorse is now being modernized with new onboard electronics and other systems. Even though designed back in the 1950s, the Tu-95s are extremely reliable and their biggest forte is the ability to carry cruise missiles,” Korotchenko said.

    He added that with planes like these Russia was prepared for any crises and challenges.

    “From the point of view of their technical characteristics and contribution to our nuclear deterrence capability the Tu-95s, along with the Tu-160s, which are now being modernized, are highly efficient strategic bombers,” Igor Korotchenko noted.

    He added that Russia was now upgrading its military airfields, including in the Arctic, to handle strategic bombers.

    “This means that, flying outside the range of enemy radar, our bombers can launch cruise missiles suddenly, stealthily and efficiently. This is effective nuclear deterrence and something the West is perfectly aware of,” Korotchenko emphasized.

    The Tupolev Tu-95 is a large, four-engine turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform.

    First flown in 1952, the Tu-95 entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1956 and is expected to serve Russia’s Aerospace Forces until at least 2040. Its maritime patrol version is designated Tu-142 and a passenger airliner derivative was called Tu-114.

    Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev flew on board a Tu-114 during his state visit to the United States in 1959.

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