Russia’s Tu-95MSM heavily upgraded strategic missile-carrying bomber has made its maiden flight according to a video released by United Aircraft Corporation.
The Tupolev Tu-95 is a large, four-engine turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform. The TU-95 was first flown in 1952 and entered service with the then Soviet Union in 1956. An adaptation of the bomber for maritime patrol was designated Tu-142, while a passenger airliner derivative was designated the Tu-114.
The aircraft originally had four Kuznetsov NK-12 engines with contra-rotating propellers, It is the only propeller-powered strategic bomber still in operational use today. The Tu-95 is one of the loudest military aircraft, particularly because the tips of the propeller blades move faster than the speed of sound. Its distinctive swept-back wings are set at an angle of 35°.
The first Tu-95 modernized to carry the Kh-101/102 missiles was the Tu-95MS Saratov, rolled out at the Beriev Aircraft plant in Taganrog in early 2015. It was transferred to the Russian Air Force in March 2015. Since 2015, the serial modernization is carried out also by the Aviakor aircraft plant in Samara at a rate of three aircraft per year. The first Tu-95 modernized by the Aviakor was the Tu-95MS Dubna, transferred to the Russian Air Force on 18 November 2015. In the future, Tu-95MSs are to be upgraded also with the new Kuznetsov NK-12MPM turboprop engines for the increased flight range, combat load and reduced noise and vibrations and with the SVP-24 sighting and computing system from the Russian company Gefest & T.
As part of the latest Tu-95MSM modernization program, the bomber received a brand new Novella-NV1.021 phased array radar, a new flight control and information display system, and the Meteore-NM2 airborne defence complex, “capable of jamming enemy ground and aircraft-based radar”. Moreover, the “new” Bear variant features a new SOI-021 information display system and a new weapons control system, as well as new engines, the upgraded Kuznetsov NK-12MPM turboprop engines. These are said to increase the range of the strategic bomber and halve the level of the motors’ vibration.
“The NK-12MPM engine developed by the Samara-based Kuznetsov public company which is part of the UEC (United Engine Corporation) within Rostec, is a modification of the NK-12MP, the world’s most powerful serial-produced turbo-prop engine producing a staggering 15,000 hp. “It allows improving the aircraft’s take-off characteristics and increasing the load-carrying capacity and the flight range of the missile-carrying bomber. The new power plant uses more powerful propellers created by Aerosila Research and Production Enterprise while the new design solutions have almost halved the vibration level,” according to a statement from TASS.
“This is an aircraft with a new set of weapons, new on-board electronic equipment, new modified engines, new propellers. The combat capabilities of the plane have doubled after this modernisation,” Yuri Slyusar, general director of United Aircraft Corporation said commenting the first flight of the Tu-95MSM. Thanks to the upgrade, the Tu-95 is expected to serve with the Russian Aerospace Forces until at least 2040.